Crescenta Valley High baseball’s surprising run to the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals was very much characterized by a team effort with contributions throughout the batting lineup and all over the defense.
However, it’s difficult to presume it would have been possible without core talents Brian Gadsby on the mound and Michael Russo in the heart of the order.
Both shined in 2014, putting up terrific statistics that led to team success and, as released Monday, spots on the All-CIF Southern Section Division II first team.
“If you look in the division, there’s not a lot of teams with two guys [selected],” said Falcons Coach Phil Torres, whose team advanced to the CIF quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, won its third straight Pacific League title and went 21-8-1. “That’s just a cool thing for the team and the program.”
Though they’re individual accolades, more often than not, if a team is bestowed two All-CIF first-team picks it’s evidence that a successful season was had.
The Falcons’ tandem, which made Crescenta Valley one of four teams to garner two Division II first-team picks, was joined in the All-CIF recognition by a pair of Rebels from Flintridge Prep, as senior pitcher Brendan McKiernan and sophomore infielder Hamilton Evans were named to the Division VI second team.
Gadsby was clutch during a three-game run toward the end of the season, throwing a shutout against Arcadia for a 1-0 win to clinch the Pacific League title before leading the Falcons to first- and second-round playoff wins against Damien and Redlands East Valley, respectively, with complete games.
“Brian pitched us three games in the playoffs, winning that Arcadia game to get the league title to start it all,” said Torres of Gadsby, who went the distance in wins against Damien and Redlands East Valley and appeared in relief in the quarterfinal loss to Placentia Valencia.
Gadsby finished a season in which he was Pacific League co-Most Valuable Player with a 9-2 record and two saves. Over 93 2/3 innings, he posted a 0.82 earned-run average and struck out 104 batters.
Russo, a senior right fielder, tied for the team lead with a .383 average via 36 hits in 94 at-bats. Fourteen of those hits were of the extra-base variety, with seven doubles, a team-high two triples and a team-best five home runs.
Russo scored 20 runs, had 20 runs batted in, 14 walks, a .468 on-base percentage, made just one error on defense and had seven stolen bases, including a steal of home in the Pacific League finale against Arcadia for the only run in a 1-0 win for Crescenta Valley that clinched an outright league title.
“Michael, all through the year, hit the ball hard,” Torres said.
Just one other Pacific League player received All-CIF recognition, as Frankie Garriola of Pasadena was a Division II second-team selection.
McKiernan and Evans were vital in the Rebels taking second in the Prep League, posting a 15-8-1 record and advancing to the second round of the Division VI playoffs.
“They’re a big part of our team’s success,” Rebels Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said. “They’re a big part of our program.”
McKiernan, a first-team All-Prep League pick and a repeat All-CIF selection, proved to be the Rebels’ No. 1 pitcher and one of their top hitters.
At the plate, he led Rebels starters with a .424 average (36 for 85), while scoring 16 runs, driving in 19 and tallying seven doubles. On the mound, he was 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA and 40 strikeouts to 12 walks in 51 2/3 innings.
“Overall, this season he did pretty [well],” Gonzalez said. “When we needed a clutch hit, he was there. His presence in the lineup just made everybody better.”
Just a sophomore, Evans had a breakout season, earning All-Prep League first-team honors, as he boasted a .411 batting average with 30 hits in 73 at-bats. He added a team-high 28 runs scored, 13 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Evans also drew a team-best 17 walks en route to a team-high
“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t really expect him to be a breakout guy,” Gonzalez said. “He stood out, little by little. People started noticing him and he just blew up.”
The Prep League was also represented by Pasadena Poly’s Zach Bern and David Orndorff on the first team and second-teamers Kyle Beerman of Poly, Isaac Holguin of Rio Hondo Prep and Webb School’s Ian Chavez.
Elsewhere in the area, La Cañada High’s Johnny Selsor was a Division IV second-team pick, while Sean Holt of Providence was a second-team Division VII honoree.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.