Apparently neither the Davis High or Elk Grove baseball coaches have seen the movie “Rocky.”
Just like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the Blue Devils and Thundering Herd have been beating the bee-jabbers out of each other this spring.
Now — after DHS has survived its mercurial three-game series with The Grove to win another Delta Valley Conference championship — you’d think the two longtime skippers have seen enough of each other.
Au contraire. Both Carlson and Ariola told me this week they’d love to meet again in the playoffs.
The region’s Nos. 1 and 2 in a fourth, maybe fifth — even, gulp, sixth meeting in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs? Can our hearts take it?
Remember what Apollo told Rocky in that 15th-round clench?
“Ain’t gonna be no rematch,” the champ grumbled.
“Don’t want one,” said a relieved challenger.
After beating The Herd, 3-2, on Tuesday to win the DVC, Ariola chatted about how he and his team have been confident all season; how none of his Devil teams take the field expecting to lose; and assuring anyone who’d listen that his station-to-station offense has enough punch to support a scintillating Davis pitching staff.
“So, coach,” I asked. “You don’t want to see anymore of Elk Grove in the playoffs, do you?”
I expected a laugh and an Apollo Creed quote.
Ariola looked me straight in the eye. No smile, I swear.
“Actually I hope we do see them again,” he said. “It’s a great rivalry. Give them credit … They’re a great program.”
OK. What about Carlson? His guys are probably unhappy about dropping two of three to DHS and now having to play an extra game (meaning back-to-back outings against some very good schools’ No. 1 pitchers).
But Davis again?
“It’s a great rivalry with good, competitive games,” The Herd mentor believes. “It’s high-intensity and it’s only going to make your kids on both sides better … prepare them for the next level.”
Understood. But haven’t you had enough Blue-and-White for one season?
“It hope we see them again. I really do.”
Carlson, like Ariola, wasn’t fooling.
Looking back at the 2013 series, Carlson continued his parking-lot chat with me …
“It’s the kind of games we want to create,” the coach explained. “If you get a one-sided game either way, you don’t learn a lot. Get these (like the 3-2 Tuesday loss), you have to compete and it creates a college-type atmosphere … and that’s what we want.
“Winning championships is great, but I’d rather see guys move on and play at the next level.”
While I Have You Here: Davis will play next on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the survivor of the Granite Bay/Jesuit game. Despite it being the “second round,” whoever loses that one also goes home.
The scary part of this year’s tournament is that the 12 squads involved all have arms coming out their ears.
For example, Jesuit has sophomore Chris Loeb (6-0, 3.03 earned run average) and Julian Barrow (4-2, 1.47). Oak Ridge has Tommy Huimmer (6-1. 2.16) and Austin Root (6-2, 2.33). And there’s always Pleasant Grove (sporting flame-throwing Dalton Gomez 7-3, 1.94 and Matt Stafford, 7-1, 2.74).
Throw in Cy Hynes, Stephen Nogosek, Brennan Spezia and Josh Cooper of Woodcreek — a combined 14-5, each with more than 30 innings pitched and a collective 1.92 ERA — and the competition is thick enough.
Then there’s those rascally Elk Grove guys and Vacaville, Rocklin, Vintage, Franklin and Rodriguez.
Poor DHS? Hardly …
With Matt Trask, Bobby Young, Adam Inouye and Jake Miille (among others) the Blue Devils have carved out a 1.95 team earned run average.
By the way, Davis is 8-2 against Division I playoff teams this spring.
So it’s no surprise that these Devils are locked and loaded. Confident and ready for anybody, even if it is a rematch with Apollo Creed.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.