By Mark FABRICK
It was a rough go of things for the Crescenta Valley High baseball team in this year’s Babe Herman Tournament, as the Falcons were just 1-2 in the 48th edition of the annual tournament heading into Wednesday’s consolation game against Birmingham High. Crescenta Valley lost the opener 6-3 to LaSalle on Saturday night at Stengel Field. The Falcons were staging a rally when the lights went out promptly at 10 p.m. in the bottom of the seventh inning and the game was called.
The Falcons rebounded on Monday defeating Diamond Ranch of Pomona 6-5 thanks to walk-off single from senior centerfielder Bryan Wang. The game was a roller coaster that saw the Falcons erase a 3-1 deficit, then blow a 5-3 lead, all to win in walk-off fashion. It must have felt like a Yankees-Red Sox game for the boisterous crowd, fueled by coffee and hot chocolate; the game lasted more than two-and-a-half hours and featured five pitching changes.
The Falcons took on Granada Hills next on Tuesday night. It was a pitchers’ duel between Crescenta Valley junior ace Brian Gadsby and Granada Hills’ senior John Schultz. Each threw a complete game, but it was Schultz and the Highlanders who got the win 1-0.
Despite the score the game was not without its moments. The game’s lone run was scored on a controversial call. With runners on first and third base and one out, Highlanders’ shortstop Mike Scolaro hit a sharp ground ball up the middle. Falcons’ second-baseman Nick Diaz fielded the ball and scooped it to shortstop Brandon Alsamman who caught the ball bare-handed coming across second base and threw to first. The entire crowd thought it was a double play and the inning was over, but the umpire at second ruled Alsamman got taken off the bag, and ruled the runner at second safe. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the runner on third scored, and a runner remained on second with two out. Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres came out to argue the call, but to no avail. Gadsby struck out the final batter he faced to get out of the inning and the crowd continued to razz the umpires, but there would be no taking that one run off the board.
As they had throughout the tournament, the Falcons would not give up. With one out, Falcons’ senior left fielder Austin Brines hit a ground ball into the hole and slid into first base to beat the throw out for a single. Again, Kevin Hello came in to pinch run, successfully stealing second base. However, Hello would be gunned down trying to steal third.
It was a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Falcons. After Monday’s victory over Granada Hills, Coach Torres remarked several times, “We need to play better.” Despite the win, Torres described the game as “pretty bad,” pointing to Falcons’ inability to close out the game.
Torres remarked, “I think we gave them seven outs in the seventh inning.”
The Falcons did clean things up on Tuesday night; they didn’t commit any errors, and their star pitcher lived up to the billing, but the bats were shut down by a worthy opponent. Crescenta Valley played a consolation game against Birmingham High Wednesday afternoon. The Falcons will have two more tune-up games over the next week before Pacific League play begins on April 1.