After a shaky start on defense, the members of the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth 16-18 All-Star team regrouped with an offensive surge.
It was enough to get San Gabriel Valley, featuring an assortment of Crescenta Valley High products and Glendale Community College baseball players, on the right path.
Adrian Damla had a go-ahead run-scoring single in the fourth inning and Justin Cage finished with a pair of runs batted in Thursday night to propel San Gabriel Valley to a 7-2 victory against the Columbia Basin River Dogs of Washington state in an American Division pool-play game of the Babe Ruth World Series in Ephrata, Wash.
"We made five errors by kicking some grounders and botching a pick-off attempt," said San Gabriel Valley Coach Phil Torres, who is also the Crescenta Valley coach. "We didn't do a very good job of executing on defense, but the guys did a great job of sticking together.
"The opening game of the World Series is always going to be tough and we played the host team after a 10-day layoff. They were a real good team."
San Gabriel Valley, seeking its first World Series championship since 2007, saw starting pitcher Brian Gadsby (Crescenta Valley) go the distance. Gadsby, a right-hander, didn't allow an earned run, yielded four hits and struck out six.
Washington built a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning before San Gabriel Valley, which captured the Pacific Southwest Regional in Modesto on July 28, mounted its comeback in the fourth.
Cage scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 2-1. Blake Berry drove in a run with a fielder's choice to knot it at 2 and Damla (Crescenta Valley) followed with a run-scoring single to right to give San Gabriel a 3-2 advantage.
"I got jammed a bit and was able to get it to fall just in front of the right fielder," Damla said. "I basically had to use all of my strength.
"We had to compete throughout and flush out the second inning. We were able to chip away."
San Gabriel Valley scored four runs in the fifth to complete the scoring. Cage had a two-run single to make it 7-2.
San Gabriel Valley will next take part in division pool-play games against Tri-Township and Charleston at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively, Saturday and Alabama at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The quarterfinals will be held Tuesday with the semifinals set for Wednesday. The championship contest takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .