TUJUNGA — After a brief struggle on the mound, Cameron Cassidy bounced back nicely.
It was the effort that the Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans Little League 9-10 All-Star team had sought from its ace pitcher.
Cassidy retired the final 12 batters he faced and reliever Grant Carl got the last two outs to help lift Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans to a 5-3 win against Burbank in an opening-round game of the double-elimination District 16 Tournament on Monday at Tujunga Little League Fields.
Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans will meet Tujunga in a winner's-bracket contest at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the same site. Burbank, which fielded only 9-year-olds, will take part in an elimination game against a team to be determined at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Babe Herman Field in Glendale.
"I just had a good feeling about Cam coming into the game," said Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans Manager Dave Miller, whose team never trailed. "He usually got ahead in the counts and he was able to establish his fastball and mix it in with some curves.
"Just a great outing from him. Now, we have a good feeling about ourselves going into the next game."
Cassidy, a right-hander, went 5 1/3 innings before reaching the tournament-imposed 75-pitch count. He finished with nine strikeouts and limited Burbank to three hits. Carl relieved Cassidy and set down the next two batters to earn the save.
Cassidy did struggle early, as he encountered a difficult second inning. Burbank scored three runs in the bottom of the second to knot the score at 3. It marked the last time Burbank would threaten.
"I was really nervous in the first two innings, but then I was able to settle down," Cassidy said. "I just had to get focused and throw the ball well.
"I was able to relax and concentrate on throwing strikes."
Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans scored three runs in the first. Tristan Ulloa had a two-run single to make it 2-0 before Carl capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to right.
Burbank bounced back in the second with three runs. Frankie Malagon had a run-scoring triple to right and scored on a fielding error to cut the deficit to 3-2. Justin Burras then walked and scored following three wild pitches.
Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans then scored two runs in the third to complete the scoring. A run-scoring infield single by Natasha Cohen made it 4-3 and a run-scoring ground out by Daniel Verrengia made it 5-3.
"Getting those two runs back like that was huge," Miller said. "It helped the team relax."
Burbank Coach Thomas Magoon said Burbank finally got to taste what it's like to participate in the All-Star Tournament.
"We had a lot of people playing their first game," Magoon said. "We came out a little nervous.
"Give [Cassidy] credit for the way he pitched."