GLENDALE — Instead of competing in the Babe Ruth Southern California State Tournament, the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth 16-18 squad played three practice games against California collegiate teams.
It's those three games that have prepared San Gabriel Valley, coached by Crescenta Valley High baseball Coach Phil Torres and featuring several local players, for the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament in Modesto.
While Torres and San Gabriel Valley would have preferred participating in the state tournament — which has been held at Arcadia High in recent years but wasn't this year because a field permit couldn't be obtained — the three games will have to do.
"You always want to play games and play in the state tournament," said Torres, whose team will begin the seven-team, double-elimination Pacific Southwest Tournament against a team from Central California at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Modesto Christian High. "We got to play some good competition against the East L.A. Dodgers, Southern California A's and the Ventura Pirates to get us ready.
"All of the teams we will play [in the Pacific Southwest Tournament] have played together for a while. Friday will be our first go-around and we don't know what to expect. We have a nice blend of older and younger players."
SGV, which captured the Babe Ruth World Series championship in 2004, 2006 and 2007, will feature current Crescenta Valley players Troy Mulcahey, Troy Prasertsit, Elliott Surrey and Kyle Murray and former St. Francis High standout Mark Saatzer, who is now playing at Chapman University.
Surrey, a pitcher and outfielder, said quality pitching will be the key to advancing to the Babe Ruth World Series, which will be held Aug. 6-13 in Ephrata, Wash.
"I think we have that great pitching," Surrey said. "We feel confident that we can hold a one-run lead and that we have the ability to shut people down.
"If you don't have any pitching, then how are you supposed to win? It will be a challenge facing teams that have been together. We'll see what each one of us can do."
San Gabriel Valley's pitching staff will likely include Adam McCreery, Surrey, Murray and Mulcahey.
"I think we'll have plenty of good arms and some of them have played in college," Torres said. "Everybody has a good arm or two.
"We have some pop in the middle of our lineup with Mulcahey and Brennan Salgado. We just want to get out there and play."