YUBA CITY — When Davis High’s Chris Daunt worked a two-out walk off Yuba City hurler Chandler Eden, it seemed like no big deal during the sixth inning on Friday night at Appeal-Democrat Park.
To that point, the Honkers’ ace had allowed but two hits and no runs while striking out 13. Eden’s teammates had worked a three-run lead against the visiting Blue Devils and Yuba’s bullpen had been solid in two previous victories.
Honker coach Dave Rodriguez was confident when he signaled for a relief pitcher with Daunt standing at first.
But the move marked the beginning of the end for YCHS as it would go on to fall victim to the locals’ late fireworks, 5-3.
“Their kid Eden is one of the better pitchers in the area,” DHS skipper Dan Ariola told The Enterprise. “He was low-90s the whole game. Our plan was just to stay in the game and get him out … and that’s exactly what we did.”
With Justin Peterson now on the mound, Devil Bobby Young doubled home Daunt. After Matt Trask walked, Nick Mora replaced Peterson. Mora promptly hit Hayden Duer with a pitch, setting up Ryan Kreidler’s game-changing, two-run single.
Mora got the final out, but Eden’s gem was now a distance memory with things tied 3-3.
Meanwhile, Davis’ starting pitcher Young and reliever Jake Miille had limited Yuba City to six hits before turning the game over to Adam Inouye in the bottom of the sixth.
Inouye held the Honkers at bay while DHS completed its comeback with a two-run seventh inning against Mora.
Chris Plumb opened the fateful frame with a single. He was standing at second with two outs when John Ariola drew a walk. On ball four, the pitch got away from the catcher and Plumb moved to third.
Once Ariola swiped second, Daunt spanked a soft liner to shallow center field. The ball ticked off the glove of lunging Yuba shortstop Deven Pettengill and nestled safely in the damp outfield grass. Both Plumb and Ariola scored. When Inouye wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning, the Blue Devils found themselves unbeaten after three games.
“Bobby (Young) was solid,” Ariola said of his starter. “He threw a lot of strikes and stayed aggressive. Bobby gave us a good effort. He threw a lot of pitches (80), but was working hard and kept us in the game.”
One of the key ingredients in last year’s 25-8 run was the timely relief pitching from now-graduated Reinert Toft. Ariola says Miille has apparently seamlessly filled the void.
“Jake’s pitched in all three games and he’s been effective in all three,” the coach said. “I’m real happy with Jake. He’s been coming in and throwing strikes. (He’s) getting his offspeed over and throwing with confidence.”
Ariola also praised Inouye’s gutty performance and points to this week’s busy schedule as a barometer of how his new-look bullpen will weather the 2013 storm.
DHS entertains Napa (4 p.m.) Tuesday and Rocklin (Friday, 4 p.m.) before playing Vintage on Saturday at historic Cleve Borman Field in Yountville (noon).
Trask (1-0) gets the Napa start with Young due to start one of the two late-week games. Ariola hasn’t decided on starter No. 3.
So what does a comeback like Friday’s mean down the road?
“It’s a huge win for us,” Ariola says. “(It) really gives us a lot of confidence. We know with this particular group we have we’ve won a lot of (offseason) games where we’ve struggled early, then put together rallies in the fifth, sixth, seventh innings. We finish off when the game’s tight and play well.”
Notes: Miille didn’t allow a hit in his 1 1/3 innings. … Ariola was surprised to know afterwards that Young fanned nine Honkers over his 3 2/3 innings of work. Young didn’t walk a batter. … Freshman Kreidler doubled early in the game off of Eden (Joe Murray had the other hit against Eden, who is ticketed for Oregon State). … Justin Noreen went 3-for-4 for the Honkers (2-2), who left 10 men on base. … With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, winning pitcher Inouye got back-to-back groundouts to end the game.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.