WOODLAND — At the beginning of the season, Yolo Post 77 coach Matt Castles said his American Legion baseball squad would be deep in solid arms.
Opening the District 6 double-elimination tournament Thursday with a 2-1 victory over a strong Fair Oaks team, Robert Daugherty and Carlos Enriquez once again proved Castles knew what he was talking about.
Daugherty threw seven nifty innings, allowing four hits and one run before Enriquez picked up the save by erasing in order the six batters he faced. Top-seeded Yolo is hosting the tournament at Clark Field in Woodland.
“It was a great pitching performance by Daugherty, keeping us in the game and giving us a chance,” Castles told The Enterprise. “We didn’t swing the bats that well. We didn’t execute that well … we certainly didn’t come up with the big hits with guys on base. Offensively, we struggled.”
But a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, highlighted by Chris Gnos’ RBI double, was enough to overcome the Oaks’ only tally in the top of the frame.
After Fair Oaks starter Taylor Jones and lefty Daugherty went toe-to-toe through six shutout innings, Post 383 broke through …
Mike Hatfield drew a one-out walk and immediately stole second. After Dustin Masculus flew out deep to center fielder Adam Castelan, Keith Judd bounced a single to left.
Outfielder Gnos, a 2011 graduate of Davis High who now plays at Holy Names University (Oakland), came up throwing. But his one-hopper was off-line and Hatfield scored. It marked the first time the Oaks had even gotten a runner as far as third base, let alone across the plate.
What would be Daugherty’s last pitch of the night got Mike Phelen to fly out, again deep to center.
Trailing 1-0, Daugherty would be made a winner with the ensuing Post 77 rally …
Yolo’s Nico Sandoval opened with a sharp single to center. Ethan Chrisp ran for Sandoval and promptly swiped second.
On a 3-1 pitch, Bobby Young surprised everyone with a drop bunt. Intending to sacrifice to Chrisp to third, Young did that — but also beat Jones’ tardy throw to first base.
With runners at the corners and nobody out, Gnos launched a long fly ball to right. Masculus almost got to the ball, but it bounced off the fence, just out of the Fair Oaks fielder’s reach. In came Chrisp, but Young stopped at third.
Jones settled in and got Joe Murray and Castelan to fly out to right before Mike Chavarria took his place at the plate.
Before the Cosumnes River College slugger popped out to third, Jones uncorked a wild pitch that scored Young.
With catcher Joey Thompson hustling after the ball, his throw to Jones arrived when Young did. The safe call started an argument from the various members of the Oaks.
In the end, the run stood, but at least one visiting coach was ejected.
With the locals now leading 2-1, Enriquez relieved Daugherty (4-0) in the eighth and, on this night, was The Answer as he retired all six batters he faced.
Post 77 will meet Lodi at 7 p.m. Friday. Earning the top tourney seed thanks to a 26-7 regular-season mark, Yolo is in terrific position with its deep pitching staff.
Thomas Galart will get the start.
“Pitching well enough to win 2-1 is good to know,” Castles added. “But we have to come out and swing the bat better (Friday) if we want a chance to beat Lodi.
“But I definitely think in a short tournament like this, we have the depth to get through a five-team tournament. Pitching-wise we’re in good shape. We have plenty of arms left.”
Lodi stopped West Sacramento, 8-2, opening the tournament on Wednesday. Fair Oaks had spanked Manhart, 11-5, in the nightcap of Day 1.
Earlier on Thursday, West Sac was eliminated, falling to Manhart, 12-6. Manhart and Fair Oaks meet Friday (3 p.m.) in an elimination game.
Notes: A full-dress Post 77 color guard presented the U.S. flag before Lisa Parente’s stirring rendition of the national anthem. Parente of Davis just last month sang the anthem at an Oakland A’s game. … Daugherty, a Pioneer High grad, will be headed to the University of Washington this fall on a baseball grant. As a Patriot this spring, Daugherty went 6-2 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 67 in less than 50 innings pitched. … Infielder Murray made a slick play in charging a Judd fifth-inning grounder to start a second-to-first double play. … Former Blue Devils Young and Gnos were the only players with two hits in the contest. … Daugherty fanned six and walked two.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.