SGV's road to World Series goes through Watsonville once more

GLENDALE — Watsonville holds plenty of recent history for the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth 16-18 squad.

The small Central California farming community has been a checkpoint on the way to World Series appearances in the past, most recently last season, when the team, coached by Crescenta Valley High Coach Phil Torres, advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series in Moses Lake, Wash., where it reached the semifinals.

And, once again, it's Watsonville that SGV will have to pass through to make another go at the championship. Their run in the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament begins tonight at 8 p.m. against the host team and continues through Monday with the championship game to be played on Tuesday.

"We're excited because last year we weren't able to win the World Series," said 2009 Crescenta Valley graduate Sean Elliott, one of four current or former Falcons on the team, "so we're excited to go back and defend our region championship and see if we can go back to the World Series again."

The pitching staff is anchored by 2009 Arcadia graduate Bryce Rutherford and also features Elliott and Crescenta Valley arms Nate Rousey and Elliott Surrey, who will both be juniors next season.

"I'm pretty confident in [our pitching]," Surrey said. "It's not as good as last year's, but it's still pretty top-notch pitching."

Crescenta Valley junior-to-be Troy Mulcahey, an outfielder, may see endgame duty out of the bullpen.

"I think we're really strong pitching-wise," Elliott said. "Offensively, we're just starting to come together, but we're starting to jell really well and it should be fun playing better teams and having a first tournament under our belts to see what we can do."

Second baseman Ryan Henley and center fielder Kyle Layton provide speed in the field and at the top of the lineup for heart-of-the-order hitters catcher Jerry McClanihan and outfielder Matt Page. The left side of the defensively sound infield is comprised of third baseman Shane Frajo and shortstop Martin Rodriguez.

"It's a young pitching staff — I wish I was going up there with some older arms — but I have an older infield and a pretty good lineup that goes left-right-left-right all the way through," Torres said. "We've played great defense. We've got a little shortstop that picks everything."

SGV, which swept its way through the state tournament, culminating in 9-0 championship win over North San Gabriel Valley on Sunday, will also be competing with teams representing Nevada, Southern Utah, Northern Utah, Central California, Northern California and Arizona.

"I think we go up with that mentality of, 'We're the best team here,'" Elliott said. "I think other teams see us as the team to beat."

But the deepest, most experienced team SGV meets in the tournament may be the one it opposes tonight.

"I think it's a gonna be a good game just because they're the host team and we're SGV, everybody knows us," Surrey said. "I think it's gonna be a close game, a good game. We'll just have to battle."

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