GLENDALE â€” After 10 long days and five hard-fought games, the San Gabriel Valley All-Star team has positioned itself right where it wants to be.
Where it wants to be is in the championship game of the Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series with hopes of reclaiming its title.
The squad reached the finals following its fifth victory in as many tries, this time a 4-2 win over Columbia Basin, Wash. on Thursday in Newark, Ohio during the tournament’s semifinals.
Next comes a meeting with Denham Springs, La., today at 4 p.m. PST for all the marbles.
â€œWe are capable of winning the whole thing,â€ said San Gabriel and former Crescenta Valley High infielder Micah Dunham of his team, which is aiming for its third crown in four years. â€œI’m not saying we will or we won’t [win], but if we go out and play our game we should be able to win.â€
Before Thursday’s game, San Gabriel had received little resistance in its repeat bid, allowing only five runs throughout the tournament â€” all of them coming in one game.
However against Columbia Basin, the club got its closet contest to date.
A three-run fourth inning by San Gabriel proved to be the difference.
Former Crescenta Valley standout Dustin Emmons connected for a two-run home run in the frame, breaking open a scoreless tie.
â€œHe hit a bomb, a no-doubter,â€ said San Gabriel Valley and Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres of Emmons’ shot.
The team added one more run via Crescenta Valley outfielder Daniel Park’s run-scoring triple for the 3-0 advantage.
â€œThat was the big run of the game right there,â€ Torres added.
But it was the home run that gave San Gabriel a needed boost.
â€œIt really gave us momentum to win the game,â€ Dunham said.
Columbia Basin would not go down without a fight, answering back with a two-run home run of its own in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 3-2.
San Gabriel added an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth on a groundout.
Starting pitcher Rob Rasmussen, formerly of Pasadena Poly, had a fine performance for San Gabriel, pitching into the seventh and picking up his second win of the tournament. He is now 17-0 in his Babe Ruth tournament career.
Nick Kennedy of East L.A. College pitched the final inning, inducing a potential rally-killing double play to earn the save.
While it may not have been San Gabriel’s most complete game of the tournament, the sluggish play could be attributed to a combination of the extensive heat and having a bye the previous day.
â€œIt’s tough to come off an off day,â€ Dunham said. â€œWe were just a little flat.â€
San Gabriel previously met Denham Springs in its opening game of the tournament on Friday, using a no-hitter and some hot bats to post a 13-0 mercy-shortened win.