Sweat did more than trickle from Woodland Hills East right-hander Mike Krasner's brow Wednesday as he labored in an American Legion start. It poured down his neck and stained his baseball cap. The pitch count skyrocketed.
So did the baseballs.
Krasner, however, hung in there. Just like some of his curves.
"I haven't worked that hard in a long time," said Krasner, who threw 129 pitches in his complete game.
Perseverance and perspiration paid off as Krasner and Woodland Hills East came from behind to defeat Van Nuys-Notre Dame, 8-7, in a District 20 game at Taft High.
Krasner (3-0) was battered for six hits and five runs in the fourth inning as Van Nuys (4-2) jumped to a 7-3 lead. Even worse, when the inning ended, Krasner was jumped on verbally by the Van Nuys bench.
"That fired me up," said Krasner, who allowed nine hits, struck out two and walked six. "It helped me more than it hurt me."
Krasner held Van Nuys hitless over the final three innings as his teammates mounted a comeback. Catcher Stacey Kleiner and Coach Matt Borzello made sure Krasner's attention never wavered.
"Coach and I kept talking to him," Kleiner said. "We stayed on him to make sure he stayed calm."
East, which held a 3-0 lead after two innings, scored twice in the fourth to close to within 7-5.
In the fifth, East (3-2) scored two runs off Van Nuys reliever Eric Vellozzi, who already had recorded two saves this season. Rick Marino drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly and John Erganian tied the score, 7-7, with a two-out triple to left-center.
Kleiner's two-out single in the sixth drove in Matt Allison with the go-ahead run and handed Vellozzi (0-1) the loss.
It gave Kleiner bragging rights of sorts over many of his former Encino youth league teammates who now play for Van Nuys.
"We've always had kind of a rivalry with those guys," said Kleiner, who attends Taft. "They're always on my case because I came here to go to school."
Glen Carson's three-run triple keyed Van Nuys' five-run rally in the fourth. Cesar Hernandez had two hits for Van Nuys (4-2).