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San Gabriel Falls in Final of Babe Ruth World Series


Everything seemed to be in place Sunday for San Gabriel Valley in its bid to win its seventh Babe Ruth World Series title at the 16-year-old championship in Carmel, Ind.

San Gabriel Valley had fine-tuned its offense Friday in scoring a tournament-high 16 runs in a thrashing of Indianola, Iowa, that earned it the right to play Marietta, Ga., in the title game. And San Gabriel Valley's pitching had been bolstered by an extra day's rest, which was provided by a thunderstorm that washed out Saturday's schedule.

Regardless of San Gabriel Valley's preparation, it soon became apparent that nothing could end Marietta's weeklong cruise through the nine-team, double-elimination tournament. Marietta, which won its four tournament games by an average of five runs, continued its roll with a 6-1 win over San Gabriel Valley.

"What can you say?" San Gabriel Valley Coach Victor Becerra asked. "They have a very strong team and we didn't play very well. They made the plays, we didn't, and that makes them the better team (Sunday)."

Although San Gabriel Valley needed to defeat unbeaten Marietta twice Sunday, it certainly wasn't an unrealistic task.

After all, San Gabriel Valley entered the game averaging a tournament-best eight runs a game and had a tournament-high seven home runs. And San Gabriel's pitching staff also was impressive, entering the title game with a tournament earned-run average of 1.00.

But Marietta's stingy pitching staff, which entered the game with two shutouts in three games and an earned-run average of 0.50, proved too strong for San Gabriel Valley. Chris Bowen, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 87 m.p.h., limited San Gabriel Valley to five hits in winning his second game of the tournament. He lost a shutout when Joaquin Villalobos hit a home run.

Bowen teamed with tournament most valuable player Alex Shilliday, who didn't give up a run and only four hits in 14 innings, to limit San Gabriel Valley to one run in two head-to-head games. And this was a San Gabriel Valley team that had outscored its other tournament foes, 34-1.

"We had less than six walks in four games and that's the secret to winning ballgames," Marietta Coach Guerry Baldwin said.

San Gabriel Valley's lone weakness throughout the tournament was its sometimes-shoddy defense, an element that haunted it Sunday. Marietta took a 1-0 lead on a passed ball in the first inning and three San Gabriel Valley errors enabled Marietta to score three unearned runs in the sixth, which gave the Astros an insurmountable 6-1 lead.

San Gabriel Valley finished with five errors that led to four unearned runs.

San Gabriel Valley's defense failed to support pitcher Steve Rodriguez, who gave up only two earned runs in five innings. Eric Valenzuela struck out the four batters he faced.


San Gabriel Valley's Brian Llibre, who batted .500 with two home runs, was the tournament's batting champion. He earned the nod ahead of teammate Gabe Jurado, who also batted .500. Both players were named to the all-tournament team. . . . Joaquin Villalobos, an outfielder, was named to the Mizuno Outstanding Glove Team. . . . Eric Valenzuela gave up only one run in 11 1/3 innings. He struck out 16 and walked one. . . . Villalobos hit three home runs and Valenzuela and Llibre each added two.

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