Thursday evening marked the last game of summer baseball for the Valencia Vikings, who played the Crescenta Valley Falcons for the second time this week.
Both offenses were stifled in the first four innings, but Crescenta Valley was able to take advantage of a defensive mishap by Valencia in the fifth inning and put up six runs, snagging a 6-3 victory on the Vikings’ field.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, a fly ball to right field got lost in the sun, leading to a Crescenta Valley player getting on base.
The next batter smashed a home run over the left field fence, giving the Falcons a 2-0 lead, and the Vikings couldn’t regroup in time to stop the damage.
“There’s two outs in that inning, you get a sun fly ball to right field, it should be the end of the inning and the next guy hits a two-run home run,” said Valencia assistant coach Mitch Graff. “Then he can’t find the plate and things happen and that’s the way baseball is, it steamrolls like that, that’s baseball.”
After the home run, Valencia pitcher Liam MacKinnon walked a batter, hit a batter, and walked two more to give Crescenta Valley another unearned run. The next batter hit a three-run double, and in the blink of an eye the Falcons were leading 6-0.
Jackson Ballentine started the game on the mound for Valencia, then Kyle Cop pitched the next three innings. Ben Manly closed out the last two innings, with the trio only giving up three hits combined.
“When you throw strikes and you can throw more than one pitch for a strike, get people out and be around the plate, then good things will happen,” Graff said.
Valencia was able to cut the deficit in half in the sixth inning, starting with Nathan Trejo getting on base with a walk. Trevor Segraves hit a double and Trejo was able to steal home after a wild pitch.
T.J. Chen got on base with a walk and Wyatt Harms brought both Segraves and Chen home with a triple to bring the score to 6-3 with no outs.
However, Harms was caught trying to steal home after a wild pitch and the next two Valencia batters grounded out and struck out to end the inning.
Harms went 1-for-2 on the afternoon, reaching base on all three of his at-bats and logged the only RBIs for Valencia.
“He’s one of the younger kids, we had him as a tenth grader with varsity to get some experience to be able to handle these kind of situations,” Graff said about Harms. “He’s getting better, he’s getting a little bit more physical, getting a little stronger, getting in the weight room. He had a good day today and it’s always encouraging to find one of those players that is working hard and has good success from the work that he’s put in, it’s good to see.”
With school starting in a month, Valencia players and coaches felt a sense of relief that summer ball was over.
Baseball is one of the rare sports that is played almost year-round, with the players and coaches getting only about a month off in the summer before practice starts up again.
“It’s what I was telling the guys, this is the time for them to take time off because when we start school, all of a sudden we start practicing, varsity comes out in the middle of September and by the end of October we’re playing games again and it doesn’t end until July 11 next year,” Graff said. “So this is the time for them to take time off and rest their bodies and arms and enjoy the rest of their summer because it’s like a month and that’s all.”