The purpose of Junior American Legion baseball is to learn the game.
On a baseball-perfect Thursday evening at Davis High, the local legion squad suffered through a shaky first inning and couldn’t recover in a 7-3 setback to Casa Roble.
The learning curve in this one? Secure the ball on defense. Deliver the big hit with runners in scoring position.
“We played a decent team and we certainly didn’t play our best game,” Davis skipper David Watts explained. “They’re certainly a team we could beat. But we let ourselves down a little bit defensively. We’ll come back against them next time.”
With Noah Riffle on the mound, the locals played fast and loose with the ball (two costly errors in the first frame) while the Rams mixed in two squirrely infield singles.
When the 20-minute half-inning was settled, Casa Roble (4-2) had slapped four quick runs on the board.
The big right-hander Riffle was unlucky. Only two of those runs were earned and without the strange-bouncing baseball giving its opponents two hits that never reached the outfield, Davis might have escaped unscathed.
Nonetheless, the locals (3-1) came back.
Alex Timmons’ bunt single was followed by a James Richardson single. Ben D’Angelo drove home Timmons with a fielder’s choice, which saw Richardson tagged out venturing off second.
In the second, after Riffle’s first of two shutdown innings, Davis came up with two runs on only one hit — second baseman Andrew Walker’s textbook hit-and-run knock to right field.
Walker’s single scored Brendan Pohl (walk) and sent Gabe Gutierrez to third.
Gutierrez would score on a wild pitch.
It stayed 4-3 through the fifth, when Casa Roble broke through for two more runs (one earned) against reliever Jacob Guerrero. The local hurler was touched for one more tally in the sixth inning, but didn’t walk a batter while pitching out of further damage.
All things considered, Guerrero’s line was decent: three innings, three hits, no walks, three runs (two earned).
Gutierrez pitched a scoreless seventh.
In trying to rally, Davis left 12 men on base — seven in scoring position.
“We had some good situational hitting,” Watts said. “They were giving us the opposite field and we did some good hit-and-run there a couple of times.
“We did a good job, hitting the gap, getting the runners over to third — we just couldn’t get ‘em home, but there was some good stuff in there.”
Hercules Brack, a varsity hurler for Casa Roble High, pitched three tight-rope innings but left with that 4-3 lead. Davis touched up the right-hander for five hits and three runs (one of which was earned).
While the locals collected 10 hits, they were scattered and no player had more than one.
Walker was 1-for-3 with his second-inning RBI, Timmons was 1-for-3 with a run scored and D’Angelo went 1-for-2 in the cleanup spot, driving in that fielder’s choice run then blasting a double in the third. Greg Rohnstock followed the D’Angelo hit with an infield single, but — fitting with the theme for the game — both were left stranded.
Next up for the Junior Legion squad is a Saturday doubleheader at Davis High. The twinbill against Christian Brothers begins at 10 a.m.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.