GLENDALE — The Crescenta Valley Red Hots Major softball team has had its share of thrilling games this season against Burbank Ruthless.
During the regular season, the teams split two games, with the winning squad earning a victory by just one and two runs. The teams met again in the opening round of the District 16 Major Softball Knockout Tournament on Tuesday, with the Red Hots winning by five runs.
The two teams met again Friday with the tournament championship on the line. Crescenta Valley, paced by a fine performance in the circle by pitcher Taylor Hoogenhizen, who also belted a two-run home run, rallied for four runs in the fifth inning to defeat Ruthless, 6-2, at Scholl Canyon Ballfields.
“We knew that because we beat them before in the tournament that we had confidence in this game,” Hoogenhizen said. “We knew that we could win.”
Hoogenhizen was able to frustrate Burbank with her arm in the circle and her bat, as well. She hurled a two-hitter, striking out one with no walks.
The Red Hots were clinging to a 2-1 advantage through four innings with Burbank starting pitcher Gabby Poli doing a good job at limiting the potent Crescenta Valley offense. Poli went the distance, allowing eight hits, striking out six and walking one.
But Poli began to faultier in the fifth inning, as the Red Hots tallied four runs to take a 6-1 lead. The big blow for Crescenta Valley was a line-drive home run to left-center field by Hoogenhizen. Bella Maestas also singled and stole home for another run and Katie Ward singled home the other run.
“We were just lucky that this tournament was set up so I could throw my No. 1 pitcher for this game,” Red Hots Coach David Fox said. “I had other pitchers if I needed them, but Taylor did an outstanding job and she was able to go all the way for us.
“Usually my top four hitters put a lot of runs on the board for us, but in those first couple of innings they weren’t able to do that. I was getting a little nervous and I was waiting for us to break out a little and we were able to do that by scoring four runs in that fifth inning. We needed that for some breathing room.”
Hanna Wright was two for three with a run scored for the Red Hots.
Burbank struck first, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Isabella Orozco singled to center field to open the game and took second when the ball got past the center fielder. Orozco was able to score and put Ruthless up, 1-0, when an errant pick-off attempt at second base sailed into center field.
With Poli pitching well and both teams playing solid defense, Burbank was able to maintain its one-run advantage.
“Gabby did a good job and we thought we could win with her pitching the way that she did,” Burbank Coach Peter Orozco said. “But [the Red Hots] are a good hitting team and they got the pitching to go along with that.
“We were just hoping to get a few more runs, but we just couldn’t get them.”
The Red Hots jumped in front, 2-1, with two runs in the third inning.
Burbank was able to tack on a run in the sixth inning, and had a runner on with two outs before Hoogenhizen was able to induce a fly to shortstop to end the game.
Mia Garcia had Ruthless’ only hit, a single to right-center field in the fourth inning.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.