LA CRESCENTA — A day after scoring 31 runs on 22 hits, it figured the La Crescenta 14-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team would come back to earth in championship bracket action of the State All-Star Tournament on Friday evening.
Yet, La Crescenta’s return to normalcy was more like a crash, as the home team was three-hit by a trio of pitchers in an 8-0 loss to District 2 champion Westchester at Dunsmore Park.
The defeat cast District 4 champion La Crescenta into the consolation bracket in an elimination game versus Heartwell of Long Beach at Stengel Field on Saturday evening at 7.
Westchester advanced to Sunday’s 4 p.m. final at Stengel Field and will face the winner of Heartwell-La Crescenta.
“What a difference 24 hours makes. I guess the good thing is that we’re still averaging 15 1/2 runs per game,” La Crescenta skipper Marcel Martinez quipped. “Honestly, you have to credit Westchester pitching because tonight this was some of the best we’ve seen.
“We didn’t help ourselves by not taking good at-bats and with some poor base running and defense, but they played very well.”
On Thursday, La Crescenta steamrolled Heartwell, 31-1, and could do no wrong.
Yet, within a 24-hour span, La Crescenta couldn’t muster a timely hit in a critical situation as the team finished 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position with five strikeouts and an unorthodox double play.
The aforementioned twin killing took place in the bottom of the fifth, as La Crescenta loaded the bases on two walks and a single from Gordon Ingebritson with no outs trailing, 6-0.
La Crescenta’s next batter, Dawson Rosenberg, lofted a shallow fly to right fielder Aaron Greenfield, who caught the ball and rifled a ball home due to a deke from base runner Orlando Diez, who was at third.
Diez’s fake was too good, unfortunately for La Crescenta, as the base runner at second proceeded to third and was tagged out by Westchester’s Kailen Woodard for a rare 9-5 double play.
The gaffe proved fatal for La Crescenta’s rally, as a harmless groundout to second allowed Westchester to escape the inning unscathed.
Similarly, La Crescenta loaded the bases in the second inning with no outs, but failed to score due to a strikeout, botched squeeze play and groundout to second that ended the inning.
“We get a hit in either situation and it’s a different game, trailing, 4-2 or 4-1, and it’s a lot easier to manage,” Martinez said. “We just didn’t get those hits.”
While Westchester didn’t pound the ball, the visitors gained separation via a four-run fourth that included a run-scoring triple from Nolan Martinez (double and triple and two runs), a sacrifice fly from Kane Kutler and a groundout from Deilon Lee.
Westchester’s fourth run in the frame came on one of La Crescenta’s three fielding errors in the game.
Westchester capped its scoring with two runs in the seventh when a two-bagger from Martinez and a bunt single from Jonathan Phelps were cashed in with two outs on a two-run double from Justin Morris, Westchester’s leadoff batter.
The hit highlighted a wonderful effort from Morris, who was four for four with two doubles, two RBI and three stolen bases, while walking once and scoring a run.
Morris opened the game with a single and stolen base in the first and scored on a single from Greenfield to put Westchester up, 1-0, in the first.
Westchester added a run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Kelvin Murillo.
La Crescenta’s three hits were all singles from Diez, Sean Holt and Ingebritson as Westchester pitchers Sal Martinez, Woodord and Eli Saucedo combined for the shutout.