La Crescenta Babe Ruth baseball team punches ticket to championship

GLENDALE – An up-and-down postseason tournament continued for the La Crescenta Babe Ruth 14-year-old baseball team.

Two days after scoring 31 runs and 24 hours after being shutout, La Crescenta bounced back with a season-saving 11-1 five-inning mercy-rule victory Saturday evening over Heartwell of Long Beach at Stengel Field in an All-Star Tournament game that lasted one hour and 18 minutes.

“We did OK today, but not as well as I thought,” La Crescenta skipper Marcel Martinez said. “I thought we’d come back after being shut out yesterday and play a little better, but these are kids and I think they’ll be ready Sunday.” 

The victory vaults District 4 champion La Crescenta into Sunday’s championship game against District 2 champion Westchester at Stengel Field at 4 p.m.

La Crescenta, which fell, 8-0, to Westchester on Friday, needs to win Sunday afternoon to force a winner-take-all championship that same day at 7 p.m.

Sunday’s survivor would earn advancement to the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament in Surprise, AZ, beginning July 29.

Saturday’s contest didn’t resemble the first time Heartwell faced La Crescenta on Thursday, when La Crescenta sent 19 batters to the plate and scored 14 runs en route to a 31-1 rout.

In fact, La Crescenta only led, 2-1, after 2 1/2 innings when the home team put the game away via a four-run bottom of the third.

Left fielder Zander Ladd was plunked by pitcher Andrew Ober and then stole second base, one of 10 swipes for La Crescenta, before he came home on a subsequent run-scoring single from Sean Holt.

La Crescenta’s next batter, Vince Mahoney, then appeared to bounce into at least a groundout, if not a double play, when his chopper to third was booted.

The error allowed La Crescenta’s offense an extra out, which proved critical when La Crescenta’s next batters followed with a force play and a fly out to center.

Instead of being out of the inning, La Crescenta responded with back-to-back, run-scoring singles, the second coming from Eric Ma, while an additional run came on a wild pitch that allowed La Crescenta to go up, 6-1.

The six-run third was followed by a two-run fourth that opened with four consecutive Heartwell errors as Ladd scored on a mistake at shortstop and Holt scored on a throwing gaffe.

The game officially ended in the fifth when three runs resulted in an 11-1 lead and the use of the 10-run mercy rule.

La Crescenta leadoff batter Orlando Diez singled, which was proceeded by a walk to Jake Sergi and a single from Ladd that loaded the bases with no outs.

La Crescenta first baseman Holt then turned on a first-pitch change-up from reliever Austin Teurle and ripped a two-run double that plated Diez and Sergi, but did result in Ladd being thrown out at third on a 9-4-5 relay.

“I was just looking to get a good pitch to hit,” said Holt, who finished two for four with four runs batted in two runs scored. “I think we can continue to hit tomorrow.”

The out, though, didn’t stop La Crescenta’s momentum as pinch-hitter Gordon Ingebritson laced a game-winning double into the right-center gap, which ended the contest and set up Sunday’s rematch.

“If we pitch the way we did Thursday on Sunday, we’ll have a chance,” Martinez said. “Our hitting was improved today, but we’re going to have to clean up our defense and base running. We have a chance.”

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