CV upends first-place Indians

BURBANK — It was a quick start, a furious finish and in between there was nary a dull moment as Pacific League heavyweights Crescenta Valley High and host Burroughs locked up on Tuesday afternoon.

It was the furious finish that saw the Falcons plate four seventh-inning runs before withstanding an Indians rally to further complicate the league race down the stretch, as Crescenta Valley continued its surge with a 7-4 victory at Olive Park.

"Obviously, it's huge," said Falcons interim Coach Mark Samford of the win, which is the sixth straight for CV and puts it a game behind first-place Burroughs in the league standings. "For league, we have to win them all. For the girls even to be considered as a league champion [contender] the way we started is huge. It's just a testament for the girls."

Crescenta Valley (17-5, 8-2 in league), which shared the league crown with two-time reigning champion Burroughs last season, lost to Burroughs and Burbank in the first round of league play to open up Pacific play at 1-2, while the Indians (18-3, 9-1) ran roughshod to the tune of an unbeaten league mark until Tuesday. Now, with three games left in league for both teams, Crescenta Valley must win out and hope that Burroughs stumbles at least once to force a shared league title.

"[The Falcons] wanted it more than us," said Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol. "We didn't compete today, plain and simple."

Holding tight to a precarious 3-2 lead entering the top of the seventh, the Falcons seized the game with a four-run seventh keyed in many ways by the core trio — Allison Lacey (two for three with three runs), Hannah Cookson (two for two with two walks, two stolen bases and two runs) and Jessica Morena (one for three with three runs batted in and a run) — that led it throughout the contest.

With the cushion, the Falcons were able to withstand a two-run home run in the seventh by Caitlin Loera, who went two for three with three runs and knocked in two in the seventh when she belted a shot to left field that was initially misjudged by the left fielder, who then tried to reverse her step, but instead fell.

Falcons starter Olivia Thayer then issued a one-out walk, but was able to induce a lineout to Cookson in center and a groundout to end the game.

"All we did was kept focused and practiced hard and it showed on the field," Morena said. "We're really excited now."

Thayer and counterpart Haley Schulman pitched in and out of trouble all afternoon, as the rollercoaster ride of a game saw just one 1-2-3 inning, when Schulman retired the side in the top of the second.

"Two teams that are highly motivated and a lot at stake, it's a good thing to see," Samford said. "It's a good thing to see kids excel in pressure situations."

The Falcons were clearly motivated from the onset, sprinting out to a 1-0 lead when Lacey, who reached base after her sacrifice bunt was thrown away, scored on a sacrifice fly by Morena. In fact the inning could've been bigger, as Hailey Cookson led off with a walk, but was then tagged out in a rundown after Lacey's bunt. Hannah Cookson followed Lacey's bunt with a single to left field and, after the left fielder confusingly held onto the ball with a runner at third, Indians assistant Sara Larquier immediately called time and called a meeting in the circle with her team.

"The start [was] huge," Samford said. "I think we kind of rattled them a little bit. It was big for us to get out early."

Burroughs did counter quickly in the bottom of the first, though, as Loera was hit by a pitch with one away, moved to second on an illegal pitch, took third on a wild pitch and then scored to tie it at 1 on a groundout to shortstop by Shannon Trujillo, who later had a RBI double to score Loera in the bottom of the fifth to cut the score to 3-2.

Morena put the Falcons back in front when she came up clutch in the third. Lacey began a two-out rally with a triple in front of an intentional walk to Hannah Cookson. Morena then promptly scored both on an 0-2 offering that she doubled to right-center field.

Hannah Cookson, who played masterfully in center field throughout, snuffed out a potential score in the bottom of the third when she cut down Michelle Santiago, who had been hit by a pitch, trying to score on a flyout to shallow center. Cookson's throw was a couple feet up the line, but was in perfect placement for Lacey to make the tag.

"We couldn't get a big hit," said Nicol, whose team stranded seven runners, just as the Falcons did. "We didn't get it done."

Perhaps the most costly scoring chance squandered for the Indians came in the sixth when Aimee Rodriguez led off the frame with a bloop single and later moved to third after a stolen base and subsequent error with just one out. But Thayer notched a strikeout and then induced a bunt out to end the threat.

The Falcons momentum carried into the seventh, as Lacey began the rally with a one-out double, followed by a Hannah Cookson walk before Morena loaded the bases when she reached on an error. Tiffany Briscoe then grounded to shortstop and the subsequent throw home was high and Lacey broke up the play, as she scored in front of Cookson. Morena then came around on a groundout by Taylor Hill before Whitney Craig, who had a pair of singles, plated Briscoe.

"We just tried to keep our nerves down and keep our focus," Morena said. "We all did a great job hitting and moving our runners around."

And now, the Falcons have moved back into the title picture.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World