ARCADIA — In each of the first two innings of its opening-round contest of the Section 2 Tournament, Crescenta Valley’s Junior All-Star baseball team escaped bases-loaded situations.
It wasn’t so fortunate thereafter, as the Crescenta Valley pitchers struggled to find the strike zone.
Crescenta Valley walked 16 batters, including 11 over the final five innings, in an 11-2 loss to Encino on Saturday at Bonita Park.
“We used eight pitchers in seven innings after using two through four innings,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Bryan Rich, whose team won the District 16 championship and will next face Palmdale or San Marino in an elimination contest at 3 p.m. Sunday at the same location. “We couldn’t throw strikes like we normally have and I think it definitely had something to do with nerves.
“Our starters have been solid all season long, and we just got into a rut and couldn’t recover.”
Encino, which will face Palmdale or San Marino in a winner’s-bracket game of the four-team tournament at 6 p.m. Sunday, took advantage of Crescenta Valley’s wildness. Five of the Encino batters who walked would eventually come around to score.
Rich said Crescenta Valley must find a way to regroup in order to extend its season.
“We are going to have to be better,” Rich said. “We are going to find out what our players are made of.
“We hope to be able to bounce back.”
Things looked promising for Crescenta Valley early on. It took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Kirk McCreary doubled to right-center to score Nico Arredondo to make it 1-0. On the play, Encino cut down trailing runner David Arrellano at the plate. The catcher then threw the ball wildly past third trying to get McCreary, who scampered home to make it 2-0.
Encino sliced the deficit to 2-1 in the second on a run-scoring ground out by Jack Scher.
In the fourth, Encino had runners on first and second with two outs. Seth Stone then drove a pitch to left center, where Crescenta Valley center fielder Ty Hill made a back-handed lunging catch to keep Crescenta Valley’s lead in tact.
“I just hustled to the ball and was able to grab it,” Hill said. “We thought we’d still have the momentum, but it just went over to Encino’s side.”
Did it ever.
Encino scored six runs in the fifth to take a 7-2 advantage. Encino sent 13 batters to the plate and walked five times. Two of those walks turned into runs.
Cameron Bolger of Encino tied it at 2 with a double. A run-scoring single by Shawn Goosenberg made it 3-2 before Gordon Magruder singled to drive in a run to make it 4-2.
Back-to-back, bases-loaded walks to Stone and Sam Gilderman raised the lead to 6-2. A balk then made it 7-2.
“Just a real tough inning,” Rich said.
Stone hit a grand slam in the sixth to complete the scoring.
Crescenta Valley finished with five hits. McCreary finished with two hits.
Encino, which captured the District 40 championship, registered nine hits. Stone, Goosenberg and Magruder had two hits apiece.