It was a do-or-die scenario Wednesday for the 12-and-under Encino All-Stars (11-1) against a familiar opponent, Conejo Valley, (8-2) the only team Encino had lost to all season. Encino avenged the Monday’s 4-3 loss with a 16-5 five-inning mercy to force an “if necessary” rubber game against Conejo Valley for a spot in the Southern California championship series in West Covina at Thursday night.
Encino fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first, but immediately responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning led by Seth Stone’s first home run of the night.
Conejo Valley kept it close throughout the game and trailed 7-5 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but that’s when the Encino bats exploded into a home run derby.
Justin Greenwald led the inning off with a solo homer and finished the inning with a grand slam. He finished 3-for-4 with five RBI’s and scored four runs.
Seth Stone crushed his second homer of the night and his sixth in the past nine games. Jack Scher added a two-run homer that his teammate Cameron Bolger called a “nuke”.
Elijah West drove in two and scored once. Jamie Robertson and Mike Cohen had one RBI. Bolger, Cohen, Shawn Goosenberg, Blake Hanson, Gordon Magruder and Robertson all scored once.
Encino is one of only five teams in the entire state still alive.
Southern California Divisional Tournament — 2441 E. Cortez St., West Covina
Game 9 – Conejo Valley vs Encino (TITLE) (7/28 – 7 p.m.)
Game 1 – North Bracket Champions vs Ocean View (7/30 – 3 p.m.)
Game 2 – North Bracket Champions vs Ocean View (7/31 – 3 p.m.)
Game 3 – If necessary (8/1 – 7 p.m.)
14-year-olds Win Sub-Division
The 14-and-under Encino All-Stars defeated Golden Hill 7-5 to win the Southern California North Sub-Divisional.
Encino started their ace Jake Gordon on the mound, but Golden Hill quickly jumped ahead scoring two runs in the bottom of the second.
Encino answered with one run in the fourth, but Golden Hill took a commanding 5-1 lead at the end of the fifth inning.
It seemed as though Golden Hill had all the momentum and would force the “if necessary” game, but Encino rose to the occasion. Mitchell Kerner led off the sixth inning with a towering double to right field. Encino then loaded the bases with two singles, a walk and scored one run to make it 5-2.
Jake Fried came to the plate and with an 0-2 count and smashed a double to right field, clearing the bases to tie the game at 5-5. Antoine Gonzalez singled in another run to give Encino its first lead of the day at 6-5, and Chris May forced an error by the third baseman resulting in another run to make it 7-5 Encino.
Tristan Matters got the win, pitching a shutout fifth inning and Anthony Mayorga slammed the door on Golden Hill with five strikeouts to earn the save.
Encino moves on to Riverside this weekend to play the south sub-division champions for a spot in the Western Regional in Laguna Niguel, the last stop before the World Series in Taylor, Mi.
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