SACRAMENTO — Davis High is a baseball team that prides itself on keeping other teams’ bats quiet.
In making the Sac-Joaquin Section North playoffs, the Blue Devils had only allowed four or more runs in an inning twice this spring — both in back-to-back frames in a loss to Elk Grove on May 3.
So when DHS coughed up four Pleasant Grove tallies in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Eagles — leading to a trip to the tournament’s losers’ bracket — it was big news.
“We weren’t real sharp (Saturday),” Devil coach Dan Ariola said after the game, played in brilliant sunshine at Sacramento City College. “The turning point? Obviously the big inning. Pleasant executes really well … they hit behind the runner and made it happen.”
Now, Davis (22-7) gets its old Delta Valley Conference pal Franklin (17-13) on Monday (7 p.m.), with the loser going home. The locals swept the Wildcats in their three league outings this season as Franklin finished third in the DVC. FHS also lost Saturday, 9-6 to Elk Grove.
So what do the ’Cats have going in their favor? They’ve won six of their last seven games and are the Northern Division’s defending diamond champs. And they would like to be the one that sends the Blue Devils packing after those three regular-season losses.
On Saturday, at least for a while, it looked like DHS was on a collision course with Elk Grove, which will instead play PG in a Tuesday contest.
Devil starter Bobby Young had a 2-0 lead and had held Pleasant Grove scoreless through three.
Although he was asked to wiggle out of second- and third-inning jams, Young was living by the Davis creedo: Limit the damage.
Davis’ early runs came in the home half of the second when Trey Golston led off with an infield single. Catcher Hayden Duer followed with a blast to right-center, and as the ball rolled to the fence, Golston scored and Duer headed to third …
Eagle second baseman Spencer Jemes’ relay throw in an attempt to get Duer was late, bounced and soared into the visitors’ dugout. Duer, standing at third with a triple, was awarded home.
But Pleasant Grove answered. Austin Friello’s fourth-inning triple to center field stopped rolling 415 feet from the plate. He scored on Matt Stafford’s sacrifice fly (more about winning pitcher Stafford in a minute).
An inning later, a single and an error set up the Eagles’ game-tying run (Nicco Toni’s sac fly to right brought in Bronson Grubbs).
However, in the bottom of the fifth, DHS’ Chris Daunt singled, then scored when Pleasant Grove threw wildly to first on Joe Murray’s grounder. For the usually slick-fielding Eagles, it marked their third error of the afternoon.
Then came the anomaly: Davis allowing four runs in an inning.
Third baseman Friello, a .318 hitter with four homers, opened the sixth with a ringing double to the fence in left. That would be Young’s last pitch. He gave way to Jake Miille, a senior reliever with a you-can’t-find-it 0.34 earned run average.
On this day, the Eagles (24-7) solved the senior closer with an RBI single from Nick Doyich, a single by Stafford, a two-run double from Jemes and another RBI hit by Josh Adams.
When Adams reached, Miille turned the mound chores over to Brett Bloomfield and the last four Eagles were retired.
But the damage was done and Stafford wouldn’t let the locals back in.
The junior righty got six of the final seven Devil hitters. For the game he gave up but four hits, struck out three and walked one, and only one of the three runs he allowed were earned. Stafford ran his record to 8-1 and his ERA fell to 2.55. Miille (2-1) was the DHS pitcher of record.
Ariola, while not happy with the result, knows all is not lost.
The Blue Devils will hand the ball to Adam Inouye (4-0, 0.63) Monday and recall that the last time they won a section crown (2004) they came back through the losers’ bracket.
In fact, Ariola is positive in his outlook — provided Davis gets past a motivated Franklin.
“We’ll have Tuesday and Wednesday off (to) get some rest,” the skipper told The Enterprise, knowing he now has to win four straight to advance to the finals.
If his guys are still around Thursday, Matt Trask (7-2 and coming off a shutout over Jesuit) gets the call against the loser of the Elk Grove-Pleasant Grove meeting.
But first things first — Franklin vs. Davis IV.
Notes: Ariola said “we made some good plays (Saturday).” Among them, the eye-popping Bloomfield-to-Ryan Kriedler-to-Duer relay that nailed Adams at the plate in the third inning. With Adams on first and two outs, Beau Boyle doubled to the wall in left. Bloomfield’s on-the-money strike to shortstop Kreidler was instantly fired to Duer, who fielded Kreidler’s delivery while blocking the plate and tagged out Adams. On Thursday against Jesuit, several other solid outfield plays were turned in at a windy, chilly Union Stadium. Ariola praised his outfielders for playing well in a cavernous stadium, especially in last week’s conditions. … Pleasant Grove was the Delta River League’s No. 2 team, behind Oak Ridge and in front of Jesuit. … PG coach Rob Rinaldi is a 1982 Davis High grad. He and Ariola (Class of ’80) played summer-league ball together as youths.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.