PALM DESERT -- When Jonathan and Brian Serven take the field tonight in their final baseball game of the season, they'll face some familiar foes in the CIF Division IV title game.
The two starting members of the Palm Desert High School baseball team were once star performers for a pretty decent Little League team near south Pasadena. That was seven years ago when Jonathan, now a senior, and Brian, a junior, played for Temple City.
Tonight, the Servens hope to lead the Aztecs to victory against Temple City as Palm Desert goes for its second CIF title in three tries at UC-Riverside.
"I remember some of the players, but we're so far removed," said Jonathan. "I actually hung out with the catcher and I know some of the other players. This is the first time I'm gonna see them, but they did come to Dodger Stadium last year. It's just so ironic."
Some members of the Rams attended last year's title game when Palm Desert faced Bishop Amat, but they weren't there specifically to cheer their old baseball buddies. Temple City coach Barry Bacon knew he had the talent to make it to this year's finals.
His hunch paid off and the Rio Hondo League champs earned their first trip to the championship game with a 24-3-1 record.
"It's really weird how things work," said the versatile Brian Serven, the team's top hitter at .393 who plays infield, catcher and also posts a 7-0 pitching mark. "I can picture us playing with them when we were there. It's hard to remember their strengths and how they played because we were 9."
The Temple City connection was through Jim Serven, the boys' father, who graduated from the school. The family moved out of the desert for a little more than a year, then returned when the boys started middle school.
"They always had a solid program there," said Jim Serven. "Now four of the boys that played Little League with Jonathan when I was the coach will be there on the same field. There's still a little connection."
Palm Desert (25-8) is brimming with confidence and the Serven brothers said returning to the title game for the third year in a row gives them the edge.
"We're feeling pretty good," said Jonathan, an infielder heading to Long Beach State who's batting .355. "We're really confident knowing that we've gotten hot in the last month of the season and we're taking that into the game."
Aztecs' coach Darol Salazar said the team has worked diligently to get back to the finals. The Aztecs were off and running just a week after dropping that title game last season. They were playing each Saturday morning to earn a chance at being here this specific Saturday night.
"Two years ago we won it and a year ago we made it back and when you get a taste of winning, it's addictive," said Salazar. "We always worked hard, but now we're working harder. They've put themselves in a position to be successful."
He said the Servens have been an integral part of that success.
"They thrive in the most stressful situations and you don't see that in a lot of high school kids," he said. "They're smart academically -- on and off the field. They're always thinking and never make excuses. That comes from competing at a very high level at a very young age."
That includes their time as Temple City all-stars.