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First Mission Accomplished : Crespi Is Full of Surprises in 8-6 Victory

Division I: Celts struggle with pitching and defense, but hitters come through against Crescenta Valley.


WOODLAND HILLS — It was a day of surprises for the Crespi High baseball team on Friday.

First, Celts ace Brian Felten struggled.

Second, the defense had a few costly errors.

But third--and by far the most pleasant surprise--the offense generated some unexpected punch for an 8-6 win over Crescenta Valley in a Southern Section Division I first-round playoff game at Pierce College.

"I guess I just had an off day," said Felten, who got the win despite surrendering 11 hits. "[Crescenta Valley] kept coming back but somehow we held them off."

Crespi will face Servite in a second-round game Tuesday at a site to be determined.

Crescenta Valley came into the game feeling it had something to prove. The Falcons (15-9) were surprise winners in the Pacific League but were forced to travel to Crespi (20-8), which finished second in the Mission League.

The Falcons looked like underdogs early on. Crespi right fielder Rob Hirsh hit a two-run triple in the first inning. Tim Mathews and Joey Gennaro opened the second with a pair of singles, then Anthony Trejo drove them home with a double and the Celts led 6-1.

"I thought that should do it," Crespi Coach Scott Muckey said.

But Felten (10-1) could not dominate Crescenta Valley the way he had dominated other teams this season. He gave up a two-run homer to Nathan Barber in the third inning, then surrendered a string of base hits and a walk before being pulled midway through the sixth with Crescenta Valley closing the gap.

"Every time I missed my spot, they jumped on it," the 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior said. "I was a little surprised."

He might have lost the game if Crescenta Valley had not squandered a pair of golden opportunities.

The Falcons loaded the bases with no out in the second inning but Felten recovered by retiring the next three batters, two on strikeouts.

In the sixth, Felten gave way to relief pitcher Dean Robb as Crescenta Valley loaded the bases again. Barber drove in a run on a fielder's choice but Robb got out of the inning with another clutch strikeout.

"A couple balls fall in, it makes a big difference," Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres said.

The Falcons went quietly in the seventh and could only wince at what might have been.

"That's the way it goes," Falcon designated hitter Mike Benedetto said. "We needed to execute and we didn't."

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