CANYON COUNTRY — It was a deviation from the script, but nonetheless, when the credits rolled on Tuesday evening's Section 2 Junior All-Stars Tournament, it was still a happy ending for the Crescenta Valley-Foothill All-Stars at Canyon Country Little League.
The locals rode a 17-hit performance and a seven-run fifth inning to a 13-9 win over Canyon Country-Mission Hills, a Section 2 crown and a berth in Saturday's opening round of the Division III Tournament in Los Angeles.
"We were a little over confident, because we beat them the first time, so we thought we had this thing wrapped up," said Camie Ellingford, who had three hits, two runs batted in and a run scored. "We played really bad today, but we somehow pulled it out."
CVFH (3-0) hadn't allowed a run in its previous two games, much less trailed, but found itself down, 4-3, entering the top of the fifth before Ellingford led off with a single, beginning a sequence in which the first five batters reached base en route to a 5-4 lead. When all was said and done, CVFH tallied six hits, was hit by two pitches and drew a walk to take an 11-4 advantage.
"That just brought our spirits up," said Cailen Rodriguez, who went four for five with a pair of runs and a pair of RBI.
While the lead proved insurmountable, CCMH, the District 40 representatives, still kept coming, cutting the lead to 11-7 after its half of the fifth and scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh, as the host team's performance was much improved from its tournament-opening 8-0 loss to CVFH.
"You gotta give them some credit, they came out to play today, they didn't make it easy," said CVFH Coach Will Thayer, who coaches the team along with Tyson Howard and Drummond Schaffer. "It was a struggle."
Still, while Thayer gave District 40 credit, he was also well-aware that his team struggled, making its share of mental errors that included holding a ball in center field and allowing a runner to score or not running on contact with two outs.
"I really wasn't happy," Thayer said. "There wasn't much we did well. We hit well in spots."
As it had all tournament, CVFH drew first blood, taking a 2-0 first-inning lead as Rodriguez singled in Calley Ellingford (three stolen bases, run, RBI) before Rodriguez came around on a Camie Ellingford base hit.
CVFH's tournament scoreless streak ended at 15 innings when District 40 took a 3-2 lead keyed by a two-run single from Alexis Cervantes in the second. It was one of 14 hits for CCMH, which included a four-for-four day from Celina Rivera and multi-hit days from Valerie Goymerac, Laurdes Sepulveda and Cervantes.
An Adela Alatraca sacrifice fly scored Jordan Lousararian (two hits, two RBI, run) to tie the game at 3 in the third, but CCMH bounced right back, as it would all game, to take a 4-3 lead in the third.
Then came the pivotal fifth for CVFH to grab an 11-4 lead, as Camie Ellingford started with a single and scored the inning's first run and also drove in Rodriguez on a single, with Lousararian coming around on the same play after an error, to end the inning's scoring.
A three-run answer by the locals cut the lead to 11-7, but a sacrifice fly by Calley Ellingford to score Paige Baker and an Alex Howard single to score Miranda Diaz pushed the lead back to 13-7 in the sixth. From there, CVFH withstood its scrappy counterparts until Taylor Schaffer made a splendid sliding catch in left field to tally the final out.
Howard finished two for three with two walks, two RBI and a run, while the No. 8 and No. 9 batters, Baker and Diaz, respectively, had two hits apiece and both had two runs each and a RBI.
"I think we have a pretty strong bottom of the lineup," Rodriguez said.
And the team now has a bit of a different outlook as it looks to move forward and win the division title.
"It definitely showed us if we don't play our hardest, we can definitely be beaten," Rodriguez said.
It also showed that even on its worst day, CVFH is still pretty darn good.
Said Thayer: "It's a sign of a good team when you can play badly and still win."