GLENDALE — For three innings of their Tri-Cities District 16 Junior Baseball game Thursday, the Burbank Cubs and Crescenta Valley Augusta couldn’t account for any runs.
Both teams had their share of opportunities throughout the first three frames of the semifinal contest, but good defense and stranded runners led to a scoreless deadlock.
However, Crescenta Valley was finally able to push across a run in the fourth inning, and that would prove to be enough in a 2-0 victory against Burbank at Scholl Canyon Park.
The win puts Augusta into Monday’s 6:30 p.m. championship game against either Crescenta Valley Kelly Small or the Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans Bears.
A saving grace for Crescenta Valley during the first three innings was the lockdown play of its defense. The Augusta defense turned two double plays to end Burbank threats.
“I thought we did a really good job with our defense,” Crescenta Valley Coach Skip McNevin said. “The double plays were key and our defense up the middle was really solid. That defense really helped us get through.”
The Cubs were able to hit the ball well off a trio of Crescenta Valley pitchers. However, Burbank struggled trying to bring runners home.
Burbank had two runners on base in two innings and had the bases loaded in two more. In all, the Cubs stranded 12 runners.
“Two innings in a row we leave bases loaded and we don’t score,” Burbank Coach Michael Hooper said. “You just can’t do that. We just needed one key hit. One key hit would have changed the whole game and I think we would have won the game. But we just weren’t able to get that one key hit when we needed to.”
After getting runners on base in each of the first three innings, Augusta finally broke through in the fourth. Shawn Kim led off the inning with a base hit through the left side and then stole second. It looked as if Crescenta Valley might come up empty when its next two batters struck out. But Drew Atherton was able to power a ball to right-center field to score Kim.
“I’ve always been taught to hit it to the right side with a man on second,” Atherton said. “That’s what I was trying to do. That’s what was mainly going through my mind when I was up there.”
Crescenta Valley tacked on another run for good measure in the fifth inning. Curt McNevin led off the frame with a walk and a fielder’s choice moved him over to second. McNevin was able to score when Tanner Barge legged out an infield hit and the ball got away from the Burbank first baseman.
Atherton was two for three with a double and McNevin had two walks.
It was all about missed opportunities for the Cubs early on. Burbank got its lead runner on base in the top of the first inning when Anthon Prather singled. But he was quickly erased on a double play that was started by a nifty diving stop of a grounder by Atherton at second base.
The Cubs again loaded the bases in the second and Crescenta Valley escaped the threat with an infield double play.
“We’ve won three games in this tournament so far and our goal was for this team to improve as the season goes on,” Skip McNevin said. “And the great thing is that we’ve been able to do that. Now we’re in the championship.”
Scott Breslin was two for two with a walk for the Cubs.