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Murray leads from the start

San Gabriel Valley 16-18 All-Star starting pitcher helps team reach World Series in Washington

August 05, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

Though it had been together for nearly a week, the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth 16-18 All-Star baseball team already knew its main strength — a dependable starting pitching rotation.

For San Gabriel Valley to return to the World Series for the first time in two years, it would have to rely on its starters going deep into games at the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament while protecting slim leads. The rotation proved to be up to the challenge, with Kyle Murray getting things started.

San Gabriel Valley turned to Murray, who struck out seven and allowed one hit in five innings to spark San Gabriel Valley to a 6-0 opening victory against Central California San Bruno on July 22 at Modesto Christian High.

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"It's our first game and I felt like I had to go out there and keep us in the game," said Murray, one of eight local players on San Gabriel Valley, which will meet Middle Atlantic in an American Division pool-play game of the World Series at 11 a.m. today at Ephrata High in Ephrata, Wash. "We were able to do that.

"I was a little antsy because I went out there feeling like the team needed a good effort from me. I put pressure on myself, but I like it better when there's more pressure because you have the adrenaline kicking in."

Against San Bruno, Murray allowed only a third-inning hit. San Gabriel Valley, seeking the program's first World Series championship since 2007 and eighth overall, allowed just five runs in four tournaments games in Modesto.

Murray, a right-hander who will be a senior at Crescenta Valley High in the fall, will be counted on again at some point in the World Series. The teams figure to be a notch better and the batters perhaps more patient, leading Murray to be creative with his pitch selection.

Whenever he's given his next starting assignment by San Gabriel Valley Coach Phil Torres, who also serves as Crescenta Valley High's coach, Murray will be prepared.

"Our pitchers like to put the team on our shoulders," said Murray, who will be joined in the rotation by Elliott Surrey, Daniel Zamora and Gary Acuna. "If we can get a run or two, we feel like we have the guys who can go out there, pound the strike zone and win.

"In the game [against San Bruno], I went out there and we definitely needed a win. Had we lost, it would have been a lot harder trying to get out of the loser's bracket."

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