NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In a game with eight combined errors and nine wild pitches, it was a strong defensive play that secured the Glendale Foothill All-Stars a date in Sunday's 9-10-year-old District 16 softball championship.
Foothill catcher Alasia Urena recovered a wild pitch, spun and fired a strike to starting pitcher Gabby Poli, who tagged out sliding Burbank All-Stars base runner Isabella Kim at the plate for the final out of a wild come-from-behind 8-7 victory Friday afternoon at Scholl Canyon Ballfields.
The victory propels Glendale into Sunday's championship game at 12:30 p.m. back at Scholl Canyon, while Burbank now needs to win three games, beginning with an elimination contest versus Crescenta Valley today at 10 a.m.
“It's a matter of the ball bouncing in the right way. Alasia hustled, got the ball and Gabby was right there and made the tag,” Foothill Coach Paul Poli said. “Gabby is a small pitcher and a lot of smaller pitchers don't want to stand there with someone sliding into them. Gabby did.”
Foothill scored seven consecutive runs in taking an 8-5 advantage into the top of the sixth.
Yet, with one out, Burbank scored two runs on three consecutive singles from Natalie Hooper, Shannon Walsh and Kim that scored two runs and left Kim on third after a fielding error.
Poli (eight strikeouts) recovered from the sudden rally with a key strikeout for the second out, which brought up Sabrina Englebrecht to the plate.
That's when Poli bounced her first pitch to Englebrecht in front of the plate, which led Urena to hurry for a quick 2-1 putout at home plate.
“It was exciting and I was thrilled to do it,” said Urena, who scored three runs and drove in two.
“I was waiting for that play to happen and it finally happened. So, I was excited.”
The drama of the final out seemed unlikely after Burbank took a 5-1 advantage into the middle of the third inning.
To its credit, Foothill rallied with two runs in the third on a RBI single from Amanda Briones (two RBI) and a bases-loaded walk issued to Clarece Gil.
Foothill then carried the momentum after a 1-2-3 top of the fourth by taking the lead with a three-run bottom half of the inning.
In that frame, Kylie Lousararian (two runs), Poli (three runs) and Urena led off with consecutive singles and each scored, with Poly and Urena crossing the plate on a wild pitch and error, respectively.
Despite the five runs scored in both innings, the damage could have been much worse as Foothill loaded the bases in each inning, but didn't deliver a staggering blow against Burbank pitcher Mia Coomes, who fanned seven and stranded nine runners.
Foothill added two runs in the fifth as Urena connected on a RBI single and then scored on an error.
“My girls had a lot of fun and the energy was there. They just got a little tired out at the end,” Burbank assistant James Coomes said. “Our pitchers battled today and I'm proud of them.”
Burbank led, 2-0, after a half inning on RBI singles from Englebrecht and
Lillyanna Travieso (two runs) and added a run in the second on an error and two runs in the third, highlighted by a RBI single from Katie Marando.