Falcons notch co-MVPs in Pacific League baseball

Having wrestled away the top spot in the Pacific League from longtime champion Arcadia High, Crescenta Valley also found itself atop the list of the All-Pacific League baseball team.

As it related to the Pacific League Player of the Year, to the winner went the spoils, as the Falcons senior pitching duo of Kyle Murray and Elliot Surrey shared the honor ahead of teammates Ted Boeke, Troy Mulcahey and Cameron Silva claiming first-team accolades as part of a Falcons players contingent of eight all-league honorees.

"I think they're probably the two best pitchers in league and I think everybody realized that," said Falcons Coach Phil Torres, whose team posted a 20-8 record and a first-place mark of 12-2 in league that unseated three-time defending champion Arcadia. "Everything starts with pitching."

Second-place Burbank's Dylan Mersola and Daniel Starkand, along with Brian Pozos of fourth-place Burroughs, also nabbed first-team recognition.

Surrey and Murray proved to be a driving force in bringing the league crown back to Crescenta Valley for the first time since 2008.

"I thought it was gonna go to Elliot or Troy," said Murray, who has known Surrey since they were Little Leaguers, of the POY honor. "It's pretty cool to see how far we've come."

Both Murray and Surrey found out they'd been voted co-players of the year at the team's postseason banquet. Surrey opened up the banquet program in which the honorees were listed, only to find — at least at first — that he wasn't on it.

"First I looked through the first team and I didn't see my name," Surrey said. "Then I looked at the second team and the honorable mention and I wasn't there and I was like, 'I guess I didn't make it.' Then I looked up top and saw the co-players of the year and I was like, 'Wow, I didn't know I had that great of a year.'"

Surrey, a left-hander, finished his year with a 6-1 mark over 50 1/3 innings, tallying a 1.11 earned-run average and 73 strikeouts to just three walks. In league play, he posted a 4-1 record with a 1.47 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 33 1/3 innings.

"Elliot did it with his bat, too," Torres said, "and he's just a great kid who works hard and plays his butt off and coaches realize that."

The UC Irvine-bound Surrey hit .341 with 14 runs batted in, 22 runs and eight doubles (.350 average, 10 RBI, 13 runs and five doubles in league).

Murray notched six hits in 12 league at-bats, but it was clearly his right arm that earned him recognition and the Falcons a league crown.

"Murray won some big games for us," said Torres, referring to a victory over second-place Burbank and defeating Arcadia with a shutout performance in the league finale to clinch CV's outright championship.

Murray, who will play next spring at Cal State Fullerton, posted a minuscule 0.24 ERA in league over 28 2/3 innings, striking out 40 to 11 walks and tallying a 4-1 record. Overall, he was 6-4 with a 1.83 ERA and 70 strikeouts.

"The MVP, for me, is the best player on the best team," Torres said.

Obviously, not everyone was in agreement, as Burbank's Starkand, who's headed to Chapman College, put up some astounding numbers warranting recognition in Bulldogs Coach Bob Hart's eyes.

"That kid pitched in all the big games against the best teams in our league. He didn't pitch against the lower teams in league at all," said Hart, whose team enjoyed a big turnaround in league this season after placing fifth in 2011 and failing to make the playoffs. "His numbers are just phenomenal. I can't see why he's not the player of the league, if not the player of the area, based on his numbers."

In 10 games, Starkand was 5-3 with a 0.60 ERA in 58 innings pitched. He surrendered just eight runs (five unearned) and had five shutouts. In addition, he had 41 strikeouts and walked 12.

"In 30 years of coaching, I've never had a pitcher put up those kinds of numbers," Hart said.

Burbank (13-10, 10-4), which tied for second place in league with Arcadia, also got big production from Mersola, a junior shortstop.

Mersola batted .403 with 27 hits, six doubles, 14 RBI, 12 walks and an on-base percentage of .500. Mersola also stole 13 bases in 14 attempts.

"He put up some solid numbers and he was the best shortstop in the league this year, no question," Hart said.

Burroughs' Pozos, also a junior shortstop, certainly made his case as a standout at the position.

Pozos batted .353 and had a .532 OBP with 11 runs scored, seven RBI and nine stolen bases in league.

"He was our starting shortstop and he did a phenomenal job defensively," said first-year Burroughs Coach Kiel Holmes. "He started off a little slow offensively, but he started to tear it up and he came through when we needed him.

"We were missing a few guys for some games and Brian really stepped up and did the job for us when those guys went out."

Elsewhere on the first team for the first-place Falcons, Mulcahey, a senior outfielder and the reigning All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, put up big-time offensive numbers.

"I think [opposing coaches and players] are glad they don't have to see him anymore," Torres said. "I think Troy changes the game as soon as he steps in the batter's box."

Mulcahey hit a team-high four home runs, with two coming in league, and hit .432 overall with 23 RBI, 23 runs, a team-high 38 hits, and 13 doubles (.442 average, 15 RBI, 14 runs and six doubles in league).

"He can pretty much do it all," said Surrey of Mulcahey, who was also 2-1 on the mound with 37 strikeouts in just over 27 innings pitched and a 1.77 ERA. "His bat was a big key for us."

Boeke was a key for the Falcons in every which way, as the junior third baseman truly broke out.

"He had a really nice year," said Torres of Boeke, who hit .400 with 15 extra-base hits, 16 walks, 26 runs and 21 RBI. "Defensively, he did a great job and, offensively, he did great, too."

Silva, a senior catcher, hit but .254 on the season with eight RBI, but all of those runs batted in came in league play, when he also hit .361 and was the other end of a dynamic battery that featured the league's co-players of the year.

"He's a strong defensive catcher for us and he was a leader for the team," Murray said.

Second-team honorees for the Falcons were junior shortstop/pitcher Cole Currie and sophomore designated hitter Michael Russo. Currie had an overall average of .286 with 14 RBI, 15 walks, 15 runs and a .446 on-base percentage. On the mound, he was 5-1 with two saves and 42 strikeouts to seven walks. Russo was a huge surprise and came through with a team-high 27 RBI on the season to go with a .392 average, 17 runs and a team-high eight stolen bases.

Making the second team for Burbank were junior center fielder Ricky Perez and senior catcher Paul Frias. Perez hit .323 with 20 hits, 16 runs scored, 12 RBI, 17 walks and nine stolen bases and Frias hit .263 with 15 hits, 11 RBI, 12 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.

Burroughs (12-14, 9-5), which placed fourth in league, had two second-teamers. Junior pitcher Luis Pereyra and first baseman Chris Peale made the second team for the Indians. In 23 1/3 innings in league, Pereyra had a 4-0 record, struck out 32, walked one, allowed eight hits and had a 0.00 ERA. Peale hit .448, had a .529 OBP and a .690 slugging percentage to go along with 12 RBI.

Glendale (5-13, 3-11) took sixth in league and senior pitcher Jason Marquez was voted to the second team.

"It's tough to get your name in there when your program is struggling," said Nitros Coach Jesus Osuna. "But for Marquez, they remembered him. It was a no-brainer that he was a second-teamer."

In league, Marquez went just 1-5, but threw six complete games and tallied a 1.98 ERA, notching 48 strikeouts over 42 innings. Fellow senior hurler Daniel Aragon brought home an honorable mention nod with four complete games pitched in league and a 2.75 ERA.

Hoover (5-17-1, 3-11), which tied for sixth with Glendale in the league standings, was represented by honorable mention Michael Zalin, a pitcher and a stellar center fielder. He also did plenty well at the plate, as he hit a team-high .369 — 88 points higher than any other Tornado — and also had team-highs in runs (10), hits (24), walks (10) and on-base percentage (.469).

Others receiving honorable mention were senior outfielder Troy Prasertsit (.265 average, 15 runs and 10 RBI) for CV, junior outfielder Ian McKinnon (.333 average) of Burbank and junior catcher/outfielder Chris Davies (.290 average, 11 stolen bases) of Burroughs.

Torres and Pasadena's Mike Parisi shared coach of the year honors for the league.

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