GLENDALE — With an adjacent parking lot virtually covered by shade from myriad trees, a group of kids exited their parents’ cars and made their way to Stengel Field with their bats, gloves and cleats in tow.
It was a short trek to Stengel Field, which hosted the ninth annual Falcon Summer Baseball Camp. Once the participants stored their equipment bags near the bleachers down the left-field line, the 90-plus campers were ready to throw and catch as a prelude to the drills that were set to be covered by Crescenta Valley High baseball coach and camp coordinator Phil Torres.
The final field preparations and drill stations were complete and rock music could be heard blaring throughout the venue.
The campers were set to go to work, learning pointers on hitting, pitching, defense, running and more from Torres and his group of assistants that included former and current players.
“It’s great when they come down and enter the field ready to go because it means they want to learn more things about the game,” said Torres, who led Crescenta Valley to its third straight Pacific League championship and a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals in May. “They get here early to play catch and they know a lot of the drills that we will be going through.
“Not only can you learn them here at the camp, but you can go home and practice as well. You can continue to practice catching fly balls or getting in position to properly turn a double play. And you can work on your pitching.”
The camp, which began Monday and finished Thursday, is designed for ages 6-14 and attracted mostly area residents. A few participants came from the San Gabriel Valley and other neighboring towns.
Former Crescenta Valley standout pitchers Brian Gadsby and Trevor Beer were on hand to provide tips. Gadsby and Beer are former All-Area Baseball Players of the Year and fortified Crescenta Valley’s starting rotation throughout most of this decade.
“I’m here to work on my pitching mechanics and you can learn a lot from them,” said Blake Deckelman, 10, of Glendale. “They are great instructors and you have to make time to learn and find ways to make yourself a better pitcher.
“If I’m not here doing it, then I’m in my yard working on things.”
John Ioannou, 9, came to bolster his hitting and pitching.
“For me, it’s mostly about learning to pitch a little quicker and hit the ball farther,” said Ioannou, a La Crescenta resident. “It’s my first time at the camp and I’m sure I’ll have learned so much more about baseball by the time the camp is done.”
Torres, who has led the Falcons to 15 league championships and one CIF title, said there’s plenty of drills available to keep the campers occupied and a game is held toward the end of each day.