PETALUMA — The run is over — and it was a good one.
Davis American 9-10 All-Stars won the Little League District 64 tournament last month before being eliminated over the weekend in the Section 1 playoffs at Lucchesi Park in Petaluma.
Even in defeat, the locals didn’t go quietly.
After an 11-1 setback to Ross Valley on Saturday, DALL came from six runs down to take a lead on Sunday — only to lose, 10-7, to North Oakland.
A terrific pitching performance by Colin Walsh got Davis back in the ball game.
“Colin was the difference in the game,” American manager Keith Millward told The Enterprise. “Down 6-0, being no-hit, lacking energy … it couldn’t have been a worse start for us. He came in and calmed things down. For him to go out there and throw strikes pitch after pitch, we started to build on that.”
Walsh, in his first postseason mound assignment, came in after Oakland exploded for six runs in the first (the second consecutive six-run first inning allowed by Davis).
Walsh held the opposition to no runs on just two hits, while striking out four in 3 2/3 innings.
“We all drew positive energy and confidence from (Walsh’s outing),” Millward added. “He changed the whole game … by putting us on his back. It was really an amazing performance.”
With Oakland’s bats now silent, Davis’ offense came alive in the fourth.
Grafton Shorts and Owen Millward singled before Joby Antony doubled in a run. Matthew Young walked to load the bases, and was followed by a two-RBI single from — you guessed it — Walsh.
Tristen Wollrich added another two-run hit, and the locals were cooking.
In fact, DALL re-loaded the bases with one out, but a fielder’s choice and strikeout held it to a five-run uprising.
With Walsh still mowing ‘em down, Davis went ahead, 7-6, in the bottom of the fifth when Ryan Jaramillo singled in Millward and Young (both of whom had reached on errors).
But a four-run last inning by North Oakland sent the local kids back to a normal summer of vacations, sports camps and pickup games.
The elder Millward, who managed the majors-division Red Sox during the regular season, praised assistant coaches Stephen Inouye and Chris Trinidad for their contributions:
“They were unbelievable. I was very lucky to have them.
“(Stephen) is the classic bench coach — he keeps me organized, tracks all the substitutions and all the little details of the game. Occasionally, he grabs me and pulls me back in if he sees my temperature starting to rise. My right-hand man, for sure.
“And Chris Trinidad just has been the ultimate third coach: hits fungos to the kids, throws batting practice. He saved my arm because I was throwing a lot of BP and my arm was starting to go.
“A super-positive person with the kids. Between the three of us, I felt we had all the components that we needed.”
Inouye managed the Davis City Champion AAA Angels with Trinidad as his assistant.
“It was a thrill,” said Millward, looking back on his first experience with a District 64 All-Star team. “I enjoyed every moment. It was a special group. I had no expectations coming in that we’d be able to do the things that we did … but a really special group of kids in terms of their energy and attitude allowed them (to excel).
“I’ve been coaching long enough to know that groups like that at any level don’t come around too often. It’s one experience I’ll always enjoy looking back on.”
Inouye said he was sorry to see it end, but added “this was an opportunity to get to coach kids who truly like each other. You can see the camaraderie.
“Our recipe for success was that team chemistry.”
Notes: For seven years, Millward coached varsity baseball at Fairfield High. He now teaches middle school in Natomas. Millward hinted that Blue Devil baseball of the future is in terrific hands. In fact, Davis High coach Dan Ariola’s son Joe was a member of the DALL team. “(Dan) got an up-close and personal look at who he has coming up,” Millward said with a chuckle. … Davis fielders threw seven runners out at the plate while going 6-3 in the two tournaments. … Owen Millward hit .500 with four homers in the nine games and Grafton Shorts (.481) had a team-high 13 hits and two dingers.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.