PASADENA — The St. Francis High baseball team's summer season didn't quite end the way Coach Brian Esquival would have liked.
The Golden Knights fell to Mission League rival Crespi, 6-1, in the first round of the Valley Invitational Baseball League playoffs at Jackie Robinson Field on Wednesday, as double-play grounders killed any potential St. Francis rallies and the Celts did most of their damage with a two-out rally in the bottom of the third inning.
"We ran into a couple of double plays early on with runners on base and that kind of set the tone for them, as far as giving their pitcher [Nick Morton] confidence," Esquival said.
Morton pitched a complete, one-run game, scattering six hits, three walks and striking out four batters.
The Golden Knights' first double-play ball came in the top of the second. They were threatening to take an early lead, loading the bases with one out when Cole Ramseyer hit a hard grounder right to Crespi's shortstop that was turned to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
The Celts avoided any double plays in the bottom of the third. Morton began with a one-out double off of St. Francis' pitcher, Jesse Torrero. The next batter grounded out, but four straight singles led to a two-out, four-run rally for Crespi.
"Jesse did a good job through the first two innings and then they did a better job of putting the ball in play and finding some holes – next thing you know it's 4-0," Esquival said. "That's a good team over there and if you give them four runs it's going to be hard to come back."
Two more double-play balls from St. Francis in the top of the fourth and sixth made sure there wasn't going to be a comeback.
Tei Vanderford led off the fourth with a bloop single, but he was erased on a twin-killing from Pete Hofman. The same thing happened to Ryan Garcia, who was walked to start the sixth, when David Olmedo-Barrera hit into a double play.
"We went down swinging," Esquival said. "The balls just happened to be going right at people and there's nothing you can do about that."
Crespi added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Daniel Avalos and Vince Leoni both singled and stole a base to give the Celts a runner on second and third with one out. Christian Priori laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Garcia at second. Garcia rushed and committed a throwing error. The ball went into right field and scored both Avalos and Leoni to increase the deficit to 6-0.
St. Francis finally got on the board in the top of the seventh inning. Jeff Garavaglia hit a one-out double over the left fielder's head and later scored on a two-out double from P.J. Dezotell, which ended the scoring at 6-1.
"You lose 6-0, 6-1 it's not that big of a deal, but I think for the kids it's probably good to let them know they can score against [Morton]," Esquival said. "He's going to be their No. 1 next year. It's a little psychological edge for the kids."
The loss ended St. Francis' summer season. The Golden Knights will pick up their workouts in September. All in all, Esquival said his team accomplished what they needed to this summer.
"It was a good, productive summer," he said. "We figured out some things. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but we got enough out of this summer that we needed to get going for next year."