GLENDALE — To have a realistic chance to win the Pacific League championship, the Crescenta Valley High baseball team had to defeat Burbank on Tuesday at Stengel Field.
Fortunately for the Falcons, they had Brian Gadsby on the mound, the same pitcher who baffled the Bulldogs with a shutout earlier this season.
Gadsby was not as dominant in his second outing against Burbank, but he was surely effective, tossing another complete game and receiving timely hitting from Austin Brines to notch a 4-1 victory that created a four-way tie for first place in league.
Crescenta Valley (16-7), Burbank, (13-8), Arcadia (17-6), and Burroughs (14-9) sit atop the league with identical 8-2 records.
"This is a really good team, somehow we have been playing our best ball against this team," said Gadsby, who led his team to a 3-0 victory against the Bulldogs on April 5 with a three-hit shutout. "We played really well tonight, just like the last time we played them. We came out knowing this was going to be a tough game and we had to win this to tie for the league championship.
"We tried to play with a little more intensity. We go into every game knowing we need a victory, whether it's Burbank or Burroughs tomorrow or on Friday against Pasadena."
Gadsby led his team to a much-needed victory.
He allowed just three hits and walked five, pitching his way into trouble in the third and fifth innings.
With Crescenta Valley clinging to a 1-0 lead, Gadsby hit his counterpart on the mound Angel Villagran in the back to start the third. Gadsby induced a 6-4-3 double play before allowing the next two runners to reach base. A fielder's choice to shortstop ended the threat.
After Crescenta Valley took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, Gadsby thought he might be pulled for loading the bases with no outs to start the fifth inning.
But the sophomore standout forced a flyout to shallow right field for the crucial first out.
A sacrifice bunt by John White plated Angel Roman. Another walk loaded the bases once again, but Gadsby induced another groundout to shortstop to end the inning.
"No matter who pitched tonight, they had to get a victory, and it happened to me," said Gadsby, who threw 97 pitches, 52 for strikes. "I was just trying to throw strikes. I got them to ground out when we needed them to ground out."
Added Brines: "He's great. We got Gadsby on the mound, he was dealing. We got great hitting right now and our defense has been great."
Brines provided two of his team's key hits.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Brines, a junior, delivered a double down the left-field line to score Mike Russo and Nolan Rea. Brines' infield single in the fourth inning scored Johnny Psaltis after Psaltis beat the first baseman's throw home.
Crescenta Valley — which also received a run scored from Ted Boeke — got the timely hits. Burbank didn't, as the Bulldogs left seven runners on base. The Bulldogs were one for six at the plate with runners on and didn't convert on any of their five scoring-position chances in their first meeting against the Falcons.
"We didn't play to the level that we are capable of playing," Burbank Coach Bob Hart said. "We left a couple of guys on base, that's a bad recipe for winning.
"It was a very similar type of game from the first time we played them. Early on, a play here and a play there, the game changes. We get the guy out at home early in the game, maybe the momentum changes."
Each team's focus changed to Wednesday's crucial league games, with the Falcons taking on Burroughs at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday while the Bulldogs will meet a formidable Pasadena squad that is 4-6 in league. Each team has four league games remaining.
"There are a lot of games left," Falcons Coach Phil Torres said. "That was a huge sweep [against Burbank]. But, we have an hour to enjoy it. I told them you have to go home, do your homework, do your laundry and turn around and play.
"Every game is a must-win, but we had to win today."