TUJUNGA — Through two innings, there was virtually no difference in play between the Foothill and Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans 11-12-year-old Major baseball teams in the opening round of the District 16 All-Star Tournament.
That was until visiting Jewel City scored three runs in the third inning and continued an offensive assault Foothill was unable to sustain in an 8-2 victory Thursday afternoon at Tujunga Little League Fields.
With the triumph, Jewel City earned advancement into today's second round of the winner's bracket and will face Burbank at 5 p.m. Foothill dropped into the consolation bracket and will battle either Tujunga or Vaquero in Saturday's elimination round at 9 a.m.
"I don't know what was more impressive, our hitting or pitching," Jewel City Coach Phillip Palmer said. "I don't know if you can consider our pitchers elite, but they can throw strikes and at this level, that's what you've got to do.
"On the other side, you need to make contact and we did that."
Jewel City third baseman Fredy Sanchez proved a big catalyst, as the slugger finished three for three with a homer, four runs batted in and two runs scored.
Sanchez helped iced the game in the fifth when he homered on a 2-0 fastball that put Jewel City ahead, 7-2.
"What can I say you know," Sanchez said. "It was like the ball was going in slow [motion] and my bat was going fast. I just hit it."
Sanchez' homer was followed by a single from Flynt Clayton (two RBI), who scored on a run-scoring triple from Matthew Moyer that gave Jewel City an 8-2 advantage.
Two innings earlier, Jewel City broke a stalemate at 2 when pitcher Colin Kieffer (two runs) singled in Steven Gonzales, who opened the third with a double to center.
After a single from Sanchez and error put Kieffer at third and Sanchez at second, both scored on a single from Clayton that propelled Jewel City to a 5-2 lead.
While Jewel City scored six runs on 10 hits after the second inning, its pitching was also solid.
The combination of relievers Sanchez, Matthew Behnian, Darien Green and Gonzales combined for 4 1/3 innings of shutout ball, while allowing only two hits.
"The pitchers know our defense up the middle is strong, so they have the confidence to throw strikes and see what happens," Palmer said. "It could have gone the other way, where [Foothill] got a home run and some big hits, but luckily it didn't and we were able to save our pitchers for tomorrow."
Jewel City opened with a 2-0 lead after a half inning after singles from Dallas Kuaawai and Kieffer, along with a passed ball, accounted for two runs thanks to a single from Sanchez.
Foothill responded with two runs in the bottom of the first with a similar pattern that included consecutive singles from Chris Arzoumanian and Bryce Wong, a stolen base from Wong, and a two-run single from David Bernal that knotted the score at 2.
Yet, the rest of the way, Foothill only collected two hits and didn't place a runner past second base.
"We just didn't perform. We just came out flat," Foothill Coach Hutch Arzoumanian said. "We scored two runs in six innings, that's not going to win an all-star game."
Foothill's pitching combo of Arzoumanian, Wong and Bernal did combine for 11 strikeouts.