The Davis American team is starting to develop a pattern in its first couple games of the Little League District 64 9-10 Tournament. Fall behind early, score a lot of runs in the middle innings, and hold on to win late.
That was the blueprint for Saturday’s tourney-opening victory and once again Monday, as the locals stayed in the winner’s bracket with a 7-2 win over Woodland American at the Davis Little League Complex.
DALL got off to a slow start, as Woodland’s first batter of the game came around to score to put the locals in a 1-0 hole.
Starting pitcher Grafton Shorts quickly settled down, however, and struck out three straight batters to end the inning.
Those three punchouts were a harbinger of what was to come, as Davis recorded a total of 12 Ks in the game. Bryce Barker had six of those, spread over three innings of scoreless relief.
“Bryce Barker gave us a whole lot of pitches to help us survive the middle of the game,” DALL coach Keith Millward said after the game.
In fact, Davis’ pitching was sharp all night, with Shorts, Barker and closer Joby Antony making each at-bat a tough one for the Woodland side.
“We’ve been telling our pitchers, if you can throw strikes, we have a really good chance to win,” Millward said. “As our guys settled in and began to throw more strikes, we made the plays behind them.”
It was a good thing for DALL that its pitching was so good, as the offense struggled to get anything going for the first couple of innings. It took until the fifth for the locals to break through, but when they did, it was an explosion.
Joe Ariola led the inning off with a bunt that he managed to convert into three bases thanks to some throwing miscues. Matthew Young then wasted no time evening the score, knocking Ariola in two pitches later.
An Owen Millward walk and two stolen bases put local runners on second and third with no outs, and Shorts made the most of the opportunity, pushing a single up the middle to plate both of his teammates.
Thanks to an overthrow at the plate, Shorts made it to third, but he wasn’t there for long, as Antony knocked him in with another single up the middle. A deep double from Ryan Jaramillo brought Barker home a couple of batters later, capping off the scoring tsunami at five runs.
Woodland managed to add another run in the bottom of the frame, but Davis put the game away when Shorts singled home Jason Inouye then stole home to make it 7-2 in the sixth.
That cushion was more than enough for Antony, who made quick work of the WALL batters in the bottom of the inning, needing just nine pitches to get three outs, including a gutsy strikeout.
After three victories in three days — the locals knocked off Vacaville Central on Sunday — DALL finally gets a rest Tuesday. Davis is back on the field Wednesday at 7 p.m. to take on Woodland National, which routed Vacaville American, 12-2, on Monday.
— Reach Spencer Ault at [email protected]