GLENDALE — While the scoreboard reflected the Crescenta Valley High baseball team being the clear winner, there were still positives for the Hoover program to take away Friday.
The Falcons were able to pile on 16 hits and jumped out to an early lead in the Pacific League contest at Hoover High, but still played the regulation seven innings in getting the 7-2 win.
“We scored some runs but we left a lot of guys on base,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres, whose team left 12 runners on base, seven in scoring position, in the win. “We took some bad at bats, too, and that’s something we’ve got to improve on.”
Hoover may have suffered its eighth loss of the season, but first-year coach Brian Esquival hopes a small corner was turned.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re starting to hit the ball a little better, starting to make plays defensively and pitches are getting a little more confidence on the mound and that always keeps games more competitive than what they’ve been in the past,” said Esquival, whose team’s seven previous losses have come by an average of 11.3 runs.
Bryan Wang turned in an all-around performance for CV with a four-for-four outing, along with pitching two innings of relief without giving up an earned run.
Crescenta Valley’s offense cooled off a bit after a three-run first inning, something it may not be able to afford when it travels to Burbank High (7-6, 2-0 in league) April 5 at 6 p.m.
“We just have to keep fighting next time and keep it going until the end. ... It’s going to be a big game, it will be a test for us,” said Wang — who scored a run, stole a base and struck out three batters — of his team’s offense and upcoming clash with Burbank.
It appeared CV (10-5, 2-0) was going to run away with the game, as it scored three runs on five hits — all singles — in the top of the first inning with Johnny Psaltis and Austin Brines logging run-scoring singles in the frame.
Hoover (1-8, 0-2) had an answer in the bottom half when sophomore Fidel Hernandez cranked a two-out solo bomb over the left-center field fence.
It was just the second game Hernandez, who was previously ruled academically ineligible, has played this year.
“That felt good, all I was thinking was smash it,” said Hernandez, who later added a double, of his home run. “It just feels good to have the opportunity.”
The one run was all the Tornadoes would get over the course the first six innings, as they struggled to find a clutch hit with runners in scoring position throughout the game. After a silent second inning, Crescenta Valley increased its lead to 5-1 with a pair of runs in the third on three singles from Brett Klein, Nolan Rea (two for three) and Adrian Damla (two for four), along with an error.
Unforced mistakes hurt Hoover in the game, as it committed four errors, two balks and was one for four at the plate with runners in scoring position.
“I think we’re starting to see it slowly, but it’s still a process,” Esquival said.
The Tornadoes mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the third on a walk and Hernandez double, but Psaltis, who started the game for CV on the mound and threw five innings of one-run ball, ended the threat with a grounder to short.
Hoover wasted another opportunity in the fifth when it got its first runners of the inning aboard via a walk and hit by pitch. Psaltis induced a double-play grounder and then an easy pop-up to short to spoil the chance.
Charlie Trendacosta added more insurance and capped the scoring for CV with a two-RBI single to left field in the top of the fifth, scoring Rea and Damla, who reached on a walk and single, and moved into scoring position on a throwing error in right field.
Trendacosta was one of three for Crescenta Valley — which also had a two-hit game from Ted Boeke — pinch hitters (including Kyle Tremain and Ken Lim) to log a base hit in the win.
Hoover, which also had hits from Scott Yzarnotegui and Jose Salazar, scored its final run in the bottom of the seventh, as Jonathan Ramos got aboard when he was hit by a pitch with one out. He moved to second on a Luis Zamora single into right field and then scored on a CV throwing error.
With one out and runners and corners, Hoover could pull no closer as Wang struck out the next two batters to end the game.
“We’ve been playing better. It’s taken awhile to get used to not having Cole [Currie], so we moved some guys around and juggled the order,” said Torres, whose team is on a five-game win streak, of he player expected to be his ace and starting shortstop this season before he decided to concentrate on basketball. “We’re comfortable where we are in the batting order and we’ve improved.”
It was a similar story at the end of the game for the Tornadoes.
“I am happy for the boys seeing hard work does pay off, but now we have to take it a little bit further where these games are winnable in the last inning and we’re not chasing six or seven runs to win a baseball game,” Esquival said. “It’s just going to take some time.”