LA CRESCENTA — On an evening in which the runs were as plentiful as the fireflies, the La Crescenta 14-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team delivered a 31-1 five-inning, mercy-rule knockout over visiting Heartwell of Long Beach in Thursday evening's first-round action of the State All-Star
Tournament at Dunsmore Park.
With the victory, District 4 champion La Crescenta will face District 2 representative Westchester back at Dunsmore on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. with the winner moving into Sunday's championship game.
Westchester earned a free pass when its scheduled first-round opponent, Simi Valley, withdrew from the tournament.
All three remaining teams are hoping to earn a berth to the Pacific Southwest
Regional Tournament in Surprise, AZ beginning July 29.
“This game was certainly a surprise,” La Crescenta skipper Marcel Martinez said. “You never really expect anything like this.
“We really didn't know anything about Heartwell and we prepared to play them like we would prepare to play Westchester, which we know is going to be a strong challenge.”
It took all of 31 minutes for Thursday's contest to morph into a foregone conclusion.
While La Crescenta starting pitcher Gordon Ingebritson needed only three minutes and 11 pitches to record three Heartwell outs in the top of the first, two via strikeouts, his counterpart, Austin Teurle, was not as fortunate.
La Crescenta sent 19 batters to the plate, including leadoff hitter Orlando Diez three times, in smacking eight hits, taking advantage of six walks and two errors and scoring 14 runs on a total of 79 pitches in an inning that spanned 31 minutes.
“We didn't know how good this team would be until we actually played,” Diez said. “So, we played hard.”
In the first inning along, Ingebritson, Mike Geirland and Jake Sergi doubled, while Sean Holt, Geirland, Dawson Rosenberg and Sergi drove in multiple runs.
Geirland, in fact, drove in three with a two-run double and later with a bases-loaded walk.
“Even though the score got out of hand, you can't tell your kids to slow down or stop playing. That was the hard part,” Martinez said. “We have to keep on playing hard regardless.”
La Crescenta continued its barrage with six runs in the second, with 12 batters reaching the plate, and with nine runs in the third with 15 hitters taking a turn at the dish.
With the score reaching the 30s, it wasn't surprising that most of the team posted gaudy numbers.
Diez, who finished with six official at-bats, was two for four with four RBI, three runs scored, a walk and a sacrifice.
“I've never been in a game where I've hit six times. Never,” Diez said. “That was awesome.”
Ingebritson was four for five with two doubles and four runs scored, while Rosenberg was three for five with five runs and three RBI, Holt was one for three with five runs and Sergi was two for three with four runs.
While La Crescenta added two runs in the bottom of the fourth, Heartwell had previously secured that it wouldn't be shut out by scoring its lone run in the top of the third on a steal of home by No. 9 hitter Ricky Bautista.
If there was an added bonus to the offensive firework, it's that Martinez could rest Ingebritson, whom he pulled off the mound after one inning.
“Gordon is one of our strong pitchers and we know we're going to need him this weekend,” Martinez said. “Once we scored those runs in the first, I thought it would be a good idea to take him out. Hey, we've still got more baseball.”