The Modesto Babe Ruth baseball team is back in the Central California Babe Ruth 16-18 Year Old State Tournament for the second consecutive year. After a 2012 summer season that included a state championship victory and a run into the Babe Ruth World Series Tournament that ended with a third place finish, Modesto has returned with a talent laden roster and hopes to improve on last year’s success.
With a summer league record of 25-1 and the help of local players like Tyler Murphy, Jordan Gonzalez, Matt Tyler, and Austin Thomas, head coach Bobby Swedberg likes his team’s chances in this year’s annual State Tournament in Hollister.
“We got a lot of depth this year. I think our pitching is more well-rounded and our bats have been really good so far,” Swedberg said. “The key this year is to see how far we can go, one game at a time, but obviously we want to get back to the World Series.”
Of all the talent on the team, the combination of pitchers Murphy and Gonzalez—recent graduates from Turlock and Pitman High, respectively— may be Modesto’s greatest weapon. During the course of their senior seasons Gonzalez compiled a 2.68 ERA and recorded 92 strikeouts while Murphy notched a 1.12 ERA, recorded 12 wins, struck out 95 batters, and allowed only 11 earned runs.
“To have two pitchers like Tyler Murphy and Jordan Gonzalez on your staff, what else could you ask for as a coach?” Swedberg said. “They compete with each other, too. So it brings the best out of each other and benefits the team.”
Tyler, a 2012 graduate of Hilmar High and current Merced Junior College player, will also aid Modesto from the mound with his mix of athleticism and knowledge. While Murphy, Gonzalez, and Tyler handle hurling duties, Thomas, a 2012 graduate of Turlock High and current Merced College player, will be tasked with driving in runs from the middle of the line-up.
Modesto’s first test in the State Tournament was San Benito of Hollister, the team they beat for the state title last season. Scores were not available by press time Friday.