J.P. Crawford of Lakewood can create havoc on the base paths with his speed. He tries to get on base any way possible, and one way is with a drag bunt that he pulled off with precision on Tuesday in an opening game of the Boras Classic at Mater Dei.
With two outs in the third inning, he got a bunt to fall in front of Anaheim Canyon second baseman Cole Garcia and reached first safely. He moved to second on a steal, went to third on an errant pickoff attempt and soon scored on a two-run single by Jonathan Pasillas.
Lakewood knocked off Canyon, 2-0, in one hour, 19 minutes, thanks to a six-hitter from 6-foot-5 senior Andrew Mendoza, an underrated transfer from Bellflower St. John Bosco who sat out all of last season.
That's all Lakewood (9-6) needs these days -- one or two runs. Playing in the pitching rich Moore League, pitchers feel under constant pressure to throw strikes and give up zero runs or they face defeat. Mendoza twice struck out the side in the fourth and seventh innings to send Canyon down to only its second defeat in 12 games.
"I think it's fun because it puts a lot of pressure on us pitchers to keep the game close for us to have a chance to win," Mendoza said of the low-scoring games.
And having Crawford ignite the offense is when the Lancers are at their best.
"I just look at the corners in terms to see if they're playing back, get a bunt down, try to get on base and steal some bases and get into scoring position," Crawford said.
There were three impressive comebacks on the day.
Corona Santiago came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Chatsworth, 4-3, on a game-winning hit by Mike Darr in the bottom of the seventh. It wiped out a three-hit day by Chatsworth sophomore Sam Shaikin.
Down, 1-0, in the bottom of the sixth, West Ranch scored four runs to pick up a 4-1 victory over Bishop Amat.
Cody Bennett threw a complete game and Jordan Benty, JD Krauskopf and Kyle McGraw had two hits apiece for West Ranch.
Top-ranked Mater Dei rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Hart, 6-5. Tyler Adkison had a two-run double for the Monarchs.
El Toro defeated Chaminade, 8-1. Chasen Ford struck out 11 and allowed four hits. Phillip Steering went four for four.
Great Oak defeated Loyola, 2-1. Orlando Meza delivered a two-run single in the top of the fifth to wipe out a 1-0 deficit. Bill Wegman threw a complete game, striking out five. Quinn Brodey took the loss.
JSerra defeated Woodland Hills El Camino Real, 6-0. Quentin Longrie threw six shutout innings. Parker Joe Robinson hit a home run and Jake Pries had two hits.
Cole Taylor, Jack Kruger and Harrison Hoff hit home runs in Oaks Christian's 10-3 win over Vista Murrieta. Hoff and Nathaniel Palace each had three hits. The Lions won without having to use ace pitcher Phil Bickford.
Here's the quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday: El Toro vs. Oaks Christian at JSerra, 3 p.m.; West Ranch at JSerra, 6 p.m.; Lakewood vs. Great Oak at Mater Dei, 3 p.m.; Corona Santiago at Mater Dei, 6 p.m.