GLENDALE — In a double-elimination format tournament, coach Kevin Deitch fully understands the importance of starting fast and ending quick.
On Friday evening in the opening round of the District 16 9-10 baseball tournament, Deitch’s defending champion Crescenta Valley All-Stars struck early and often to upend the Tujunga All-Stars in a 25-8, four-inning victory at Babe Herman Field.
With the win, Crescenta Valley will battle the winner of a Burbank-Foothill contest at 9 a.m. Saturday. Tujunga will take on the loser Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
“I’m ecstatic about the way we played tonight,” Deitch said. “It was our first game and this is a young team. I thought we came out and did a good job of jumping on their pitching and scoring some runs to let our pitchers work ahead.”
Kai Purdy-Burton led the hit parade for Crescenta Valley, going four for five with a triple and five runs batted in, while teammate Jason Kim went three for three with a walk, a double and four RBI. Crescenta Valley pounded out 19 hits and left just eight runners on base in the game.
The initial path to making a return to the Section 2 Tournament succeeded to near perfection in the first two innings for Crescenta Valley, as 10 batters came to the plate in each frame.
After Tujunga starting pitcher Zack Albert left the game with arm soreness after facing just two batters in the top of the first, the Crescenta Valley offense made its mark. Six of the first seven batters of the game reached base, as Crescenta Valley plated five runs on six hits.
Diego Robles, Issac Sung, and Jason Kim each had run-scoring singles, while Aaron Garcia’s two-run infield single highlighted the early offensive barrage. Tujunga shortstop Ethan Adams made a flawless pick on Garcia’s ground ball, but his throw to first was late and, consequently, a pair of well-executed base running decisions allowed both runners on base to score.
All of Crescenta Valley’s five runs in the top of the second came with two outs, highlighted by Kim’s two-run double that was sprayed into short right field. Patrick Weinemann and Sung also had RBI singles in the inning.
“I’m very happy with the way we’re hitting the ball,” Deitch said. “I just hope that we can continue that tomorrow morning. We’ve been practicing for a good couple of weeks now — three or four days a week. They’ve really come a long way.”
Crescenta Valley added eight runs in the third on six hits, including a two-run single from Kim, an RBI single from Weinemann and Kai Purdy-Burton’s two-run single over the Tujunga center fielder’s head.
“It was fun,” Kim said of the offensive outburst. “It was comfortable because we didn’t have to worry about a lot of things. This helps us gain a lot of teamwork and confidence.”
Seven more runs were pushed across in the fourth on more timely hitting with two outs. Purdy-Burton laced a bases-clearing triple down the first base line with two outs and Diego Robles followed with an RBI double to deep center.
While Crescenta Valley wasn’t exactly dominant on the mound, the defense helped put the plug on Tujunga’s bats.
A superior catch by Sung in left field with the bases loaded saved potentially three runs in the second and a fleet-footed 6-3 double play at the second base bag by Garcia ended the game.
“We were able to make routine plays defensively and even the tough ones,” Kim said. “We practiced so much. Our coach would hit us ground balls and it really helped out today.”
Frank Allen paced Tujunga by going two for two with two RBI.