GLENDALE — Though the Pacific League baseball season is still in its infant stages, it has been quite some time since Glendale High was ahead of Crescenta Valley in the league standings.
Such was the case Tuesday afternoon when the Nitros hosted the Falcons with a new coach, a field looking as good as it has in years and crowded stands.
PHOTOS: CV boys' baseball shuts down Glendale
But while Tuesday was very much emblematic of how much things are changing for the Nitros, the day belonged to Crescenta Valley and junior starting pitcher Jimmy Smiley.
“Jimmy, he was on. He was hitting his spots, everything was working for him; plus it’s his birthday, so it was a good birthday gift for him,” said Falcons freshman Kewin Ledesma, who had two runs batted in and a run scored to back Smiley’s shutout in Crescenta Valley’s 4-0 league victory over Glendale.
Smiley was downright dominant, striking out 12 to no walks, allowing three hits, hitting one batter and allowing no runs over seven innings.
“I thought I did OK, pretty good,” said Smiley, who exploited the outside corner, getting plenty of calls and, at other times, getting Nitros batters to miss badly. “The umpire helped me out a little bit.
“I felt pretty good and I felt pretty good having my defense behind me.”
With the victory, Crescenta Valley improved to 9-7 and 2-1 in league, while Glendale fell to 5-7-1 and 2-1 in league with its season-high three-game winning streak concluding.
“We’ve done some good things, but, today, we reverted back,” Nitros Coach Alan Eberhart said. “Smiley threw the ball great. He threw a slider, it was wicked.”
Ledesma and the Falcons took the lead in the second inning when Ledesma led off with a double and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Falcons’ advantage grew in the third thanks to some outstanding situational hitting and aggressive play.
Following an excellent sliding backhanded stop and subsequent throw by Nitros junior shortstop Justin French to get the leadoff batter, Adrian Damla singled up the middle. The Falcons then called a hit-and-run and with French moving toward second base, Crescenta Valley junior Michael Russo (two doubles) blistered a ball up the middle right through the hole to hustle in for a double. With runners on second and third, Ledesma wasted no time and went the opposite way to push a two-run single into right field past a drawn-in infield.
“I was just trying to hit it to the right side and get them in any way I can,” Ledesma said.
Senior Bryan Wang walked to lead off the fifth and later scored on a lined double to right field by Russo to complete the scoring.
Though he took the loss, Glendale junior starter Jack Porras was still steady in defeat, pitching a complete game, allowing four runs, eight hits, one walk and striking out five.
“He’s been better for us, but he certainly wasn’t bad,” Eberhart said.
It was a lack of offense that was Glendale’s undoing, as hits by Ryan Wong, Tyler Lousararian and Sean Harris all came in separate innings.
Good Falcons defense also proved problematic, as Lousararian sent a screamer to right field, but Russo came up throwing to get him at first in the second; French was hit by a pitch in the third, but a Connor Rodriguez line drive up the middle on the next pitch was grabbed by Smiley to start a 1-3 double play and after Wong reached on the Falcons’ only error of the day, senior second baseman Nick Diaz made a phenomenal diving stop for the last out of the sixth.
“I’m just disappointed that we never responded,” Eberhart said. “I like the fact that we are disappointed right now; they thought they would play better. No we gotta just get back at it.”
That will come Friday, when the Nitros host Arcadia, while the Falcons also head home to welcome Burbank.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.