It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win nonetheless.
In a sixth-inning rally, the Davis High baseball team got just enough offense to slip past visiting Woodland, 2-1, on Friday afternoon at DHS.
Taz Ahmed pitched great for the Wolves, but not until after the Blue Devils threatened in the bottom of the first.
With the count full, Matt Trask worked a walk to get things started. Ryan Kreidler followed by lacing a stand-up double to left-center, giving Davis two runners in scoring position.
The Devils, however, couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity — and they didn’t get another one for a while.
Ahmed seemed to have DHS’ number; hitting his spots with control but not speed and keeping the Blue Devil hitters off balance.
“We kept pulling it and hitting ground balls to the shortstop,” said Davis senior Brett Bloomfield. “Finally, we started going (opposite field) and we got a few hits and a couple of breaks.”
While the Blue Devils had their hitting struggles, pitchers Trask and Josh Guerrero combined to throw a one-hitter. Still, Woodland was able to manufacture a run in the third inning to take the lead.
Mitchell Lovadina walked, then made his way around to third before scoring on Trask’s wild pitch. It was the only blemish on an otherwise masterful game by the DHS pitchers.
“They were both really solid. It was really nice to see Matt get back on the mound, and get his pitch count built back up,” said Devil coach Dan Ariola. “Josh came in, threw a lot of strikes, and we played great defense (Friday).”
The strong Devil defense was highlighted by a heads-up play by Kreidler in the fourth. After WHS’ Eli Hernandez hit a sharp single to left, Quentin McCray hit Kreidler, his cutoff man. The Davis shortstop threw a laser to Trask — who had moved to first base — and the big Blue Devil swept his glove across his body to catch Hernandez rounding the bag a step too far.
But while DHS’ pitching and defense was holding strong, the local offense couldn’t figure out Ahmed. That changed in the sixth.
Trask was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and was replaced by pinch runner Ian Miramontes. Kreidler then continued his stellar game by spanking a sharp grounder past the third baseman.
Visibly frustrated, Ahmed took a little too much time to get back to the mound, so Miramontes and Kreidler performed a delayed double steal to get in scoring position.
Drew Gnos then cracked a grounder just out of the third baseman’s reach to score Miramontes, and Hudson Forrester continued to abuse the hot corner, hitting a grounder under the third baseman’s legs to plate Kreidler and give the Devils the lead for good.
The Wolves had one last chance in the top of the seventh, but Bloomfield capped Davis’ sparkling defensive performance with one last gem. Showing off his range, the Blue Devil second baseman ran nearly 15 feet to make a diving catch on a weak flare.
After the game, Ariola said he was happy to see his team grind out a close win early in the season, but still saw plenty of room for improvement.
“It’s nice to execute late in the game, but there’s a lot of things that we can do better offensively,” said the veteran coach. “But hey, there were a lot of decent things we did (Friday). We had a lot of nice at-bats in the sixth.”
The Devils will have their plate full next week, as they take on area powerhouses Pleasant Grove on Tuesday (4 p.m.) in Davis and Jesuit in a Friday night (6:30 p.m.) game at Raley Field.