SARAMENTO — Don’t think that with pesky Franklin out of the way, Davis High is about to have clear baseball sailing anytime soon.
Despite playing the next five Delta Valley Conference games against schools with a combined 18-42 record, Blue Devil skipper Dan Ariola swears there is work to be done.
Davis (15-5) is coming off a 12-4 victory at Grant on Friday. While rolling along with an 8-0 DVC mark, the Devils are one game up on second-place Elk Grove (15-3, 7-1).
Now matter how hard one tries, nobody can get Ariola to say his team gets a two-week breather before ending the regular with back-to-back crucials (May 3 and 7) against the Thundering Herd.
“Grant’s competitive,” the 17-year head coach explains. “And we get (Branden) Nunn (3-3, 2.33 ERA) on Tuesday. He’s one of the top pitchers in the league.
“Laguna Creek is no easy touch. Franklin beat them by one, beat them by two. They’re a lot better than their record (6-14, 3-5).
“It’s not a bunch of byes the next couple of weeks, but if we can those three (this) week, that’s going to put us in great position. But we have to go get them one at a time.”
That last encounter with the Pacers has a 4:15 p.m. first pitch with Bobby Young (3-3, 2.81) getting the ball for Davis.
In the Friday rout of Grant, the Blue Devils had 11 hits, but took advantage of some “free” base runners when opposing pitchers hit eight batters and walked seven.
Things were close through three — DHS up only 2-0 — until the locals stuck a fat six on the board in the fourth.
Hayden Duer, Chris Daunt and Bobby Young had the big hits in the outburst.
But Grant, true to Ariola’s assessment that they’re “competitive,” chased starter Adam Inouye with a three-run rally. Brett Bloomfield and Jake Miille came on to restore order, with Miille collecting the decision. He’s now 3-0 with a 0.38 earned run average.
So, unbeated in eight games in one of the northland’s toughest baseball conferences… Is the coach surprised?
“Not all,” Ariola told The Enterprise. “I expect us to go out and win every game. I’m not surprised we’re 8-0 in league.”
Then what have been the keys?
“We play well late in tight games,” the coach continues. “Making pitches, making plays and having good at-bats late in those games. (We’ve) got some pitching depth. We’ve been getting starts and Jake (Miille) has been coming out of the bullpen.”
Ariola pointed to Young and junior mound ace Matt Trask (5-1, 0.74) as vital to the Devils’ streak (Davis hasn’t lost since a 3-0 setback in the Fresno Easter Tournament on March 27).
Notes: In topping Grant, Duer went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, Trask — who now leads the team in hitting at .392 (just ahead of Joe Murray’s .387) — went 2-for-4 and John Ariola and Young each had two runs batted in. …Former junior varsity player Drew Gnos (shoulder) is still on the mend, but has been working out with the varsity. Ariola says he’s looking forward to the day “pretty soon when we can get him some pinch-hitting in” with the Mother Ship. …Miille went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and fanning four against the Pacers. Bloomfield fanned one in his perfect inning of work. …Franklin (9-10, 4-4) is trying to stay ahead of Laguna Creek for the third playoff spot from the DVC. Davis did the Wildcats no favors, sweeping all three games for the first time in school history.