ARCADIA — Trailing by a sizable margin, the Crescenta Valley Junior All-Star baseball team was one strike away from elimination in Section 2 Tournament action Monday evening against Encino before putting up three runs in a desperate push to play another day.
But the deficit was too big, the rally came up short, and CV fell, 8-4, propelling Encino into the championship game and ending the local All-Stars’ tournament run.
“I know this is probably sooner than the boys wanted it to end,” CV Coach Bryan Rich said. “but I’m proud of them.”
Crescenta Valley trailed, 8-0, after five innings and, 8-1, entering the final frame. With two outs and two runners on base, Nico Arredondo got down two quick strikes before lacing a double to the right center-field gap to score two. Kirk McCreary was up next and with a 1-2 count legged out an infield single, beating the Encino shortstop’s throw. McCreary ended up on second after an Encino throwing error allowed the advance and Arredondo to score, making it 8-4. With two strikes, Ty Hill also legged out an infield single to bring the tying run into the on-deck circle, but Encino’s Seth Stone, who hit two home runs in the game, took over on the mound and got the final out.
“[Coach] told us crazier things have happened,” said McCreary, who had three of his team’s eight hits, of the possibility of coming all the way back.
In the final inning, CV had four hits to match its total from the first six innings. CV had finally broken through on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. That was when, with two on, McCreary smashed a double to the base of the wall in center field to drive in one. However, the trail runner was cut down at the plate on a rundown for the inning’s first out and no more runs would end up being scored in the frame.
Encino jumped out early on CV and starting pitcher Trevor Beers. The District 40 champions’ second and third batters of the contest belted home runs over the fence in left field, giving them a quick 3-0 lead after one.
Stone, who hit the second of Encino's back-to-back blasts in the first, came up in the second inning with two on and smashed a three-run homer over the fence in the deepest part of center field, pushing the advantage to 6-0 after two innings.
“I hope I never have to see him again,” Rich said of Stone, who had hit a grand slam in the two teams’ opening-round matchup of this same tournament Saturday.
Stone scored his third run of Monday’s game in the fourth. CV’s David Arellano took the mound to start the inning. Encino loaded the bases against the right-hander with two outs, but he looked to escape unscathed when the Encino batter hit a pop fly. However, the CV left-fielder got a late jump on the ball and then had it drop out of his glove, allowing two runs to score.
Arellano shut out Encino the rest of the way, finishing with four strikeouts on 73 pitches.
“I think this is the most [Arellano] has pitched all year,” Rich said. “He did a great job.”
This marks the end for the line for the Crescenta Valley All-Star Junior baseball team, which will have to be happy with their District 16 title. Encino will move on to face San Marino National, which it will have to beat twice to secure the Section 2 title.
“I just want to thank the coaches,” CV’s Ty Hill said after the game as his team wrapped up its business for the season.