Throughout much of the history of the Babe Ruth Little League 16-18 World Series, the San Gabriel Valley All-Star team has been a staple.
San Gabriel Valley has won eight championships, including three since 2004. Though players come and go each summer, the goal remains the same for a team coached by Crescenta Valley High baseball Coach Phil Torres and featuring a handful of current and former Falcons looking to keep the tradition in tact.
San Gabriel Valley will make it first trip to the World Series since 2011 when it meets the host Columbia Basin River Dogs of Washington state in a World Series American Division pool-play game of the World Series at 8 p.m. Thursday in Ephrata, Wash.
Over the previous two summers, Torres did not field a team, but SGV has successfully picked up where it left off under the tutelage of Torres and his Crescenta Valley High coaching staff and featuring a pair of Glendale Community College players (Raul Camas and Cal Christiansen) and an assortment of Crescenta Valley products (Adrian Damla, Brian Gadsby, Brett Klein, Joe Torres and Wes Walker).
“[San Gabriel Valley] has always had a great tradition,” said Joe Torres, Phil’s son and a Crescenta Valley graduate last spring. “We also know that to make it to the World Series after just forming a team a couple of weeks ago is great.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the World Series.”
San Gabriel Valley, seeking its first World Series championship since 2007, advanced to the World Series after winning three consecutive elimination games in the Pacific Southwest Regional in Modesto. After earning a 7-0 win against San Benito on Sunday, San Gabriel Valley recorded a 2-0 win against Modesto in the championship game before rallying to post a 4-3 victory in the if-necessary title contest.
Things have come together nicely for San Gabriel Valley, which earlier won the Southern California Regional in the deciding third game against Long Beach Heartwell on July 20 at Stengel Field.
“We have a lot of players who have received all-league, All-CIF and all-conference honors, so they know what they are doing,” said Phil Torres, who piloted San Gabriel Valley to World Series championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007. “We have only played nine games together and most of the [other teams] have played at least 30.
“We like the group that we have. We know that we will go as far as our pitching will carry us. We have seven or eight pitchers all set to go. We also know that we have to be smart on defense and get some timely hits. It’s a challenge that we are looking forward to.”
San Gabriel Valley will turn to ace Gadsby in the opener. The right-hander is 3-0 in three starts with SGV, having tossed 18 1/3 scoreless innings, with two wins in the Pacific Southwest Regional, including a shutout against Modesto to force a winner-take-all final.
Nick Carino, who was selected the regional’s most valuable player, said it will be intriguing to view how San Gabriel Valley matches up with other teams in the tournament.
“Everybody probably plays a different brand of ball, but we are confident,” said Carino, who had a game-winning two-run double in the fourth inning against Modesto in the if-necessary championship game. “We have a solid team and we will be ready and fired up.
“We think we can win it all.”
Joining San Gabriel Valley and Columbia Basin in the division are Tri-Township of Pennsylvania, the Charleston Fighting Squirrels of Missouri and the Alabama Rawdogs. The National Division will feature Cape Cod of Massachusetts, Tri-Counties of Texas, Hammond of Indiana and Klamath Falls of Oregon.
Each team will compete in four divisional pool-play contests. San Gabriel Valley will also participate in pool-play games against Tri-Township and Charleston at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively, Aug. 9 and Alabama at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 10. The quarterfinal games will take place Aug. 12 with the semifinals contests set for Aug. 13. The championship contest takes place at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.