By Lisa RUF
This past weekend, the La Crescenta Thunder battled some of the top youth baseball teams in Southern California – as well as scorching 109-degree temperatures – in Chino Hills.
The Thunder had two days of consistent batting and fielding in its first age 11U tournament. This, coupled with great pitching by Niko Khoury, Alex Salvador, Cody Cancelosi, Hunter Cuneo, Austin Aguilar, and Braeden Bentzen, helped the Thunder win all five of its games.
The tournament began Saturday with the Thunder defeating the Huntington Beach Toros 4-0. In the second game, the players shut down the Torrance Tritons 12-4. Going into a single elimination phase on Sunday, the Thunder was the third seed and needed three straight wins for the championship.
The first game was a rematch against the Tritons and this time the Tritons were prepared, jumping out to an early 4-0 lead. Undaunted, the Thunder powered back to secure the win, 6-5.
Their second game was against the second seeded Santa Maria Bombers. The Thunder again showed its power at the plate and put up six runs. The Bombers launched a comeback, earning three runs going into the final inning.
In a nail biter finish, the Bombers hit a shot to the outfield with bases loaded, earning two more runs with the tying run charging toward home. But Thunder shortstop Cuneo was at the ready, making a perfect relay throw to catcher Cancelosi who successfully tagged out the potential tying run. This sealed the Thunder victory 6-5 and advanced the team to the championship game against the number one team, the undefeated So Cal Outlaws.
The Thunder struck early and often as they pounded in nine runs in four innings and only allowed one from the Outlaws, securing a win due to the mercy rule.