Davis National had a bad turn of luck in its first game of the Little League District 64 9-10 All-Star Tournament on Saturday morning.
But instead of letting it rattle them or knock them off course, the locals seized the chance to prove their resilience.
After Vacaville American cut a comfortable five-run DNLL lead to a precarious one-run advantage on a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Nationals responded with a strong showing in the sixth and final frame. Davis scored in the top of the inning and then shut down VALL in the bottom half to clinch a 9-7 victory at the Davis Little League Complex.
“It got hot. They got a little lackadaisical because of the heat, but they battled,” DNLL manager Aaron Difuntorum said of his players. “We’re a great offensive team, so we knew we would be right there at the end.”
With the win, the locals advanced to the second round of the winners’ bracket, where they will square off against Winters on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Before Vacaville’s big blast on Saturday, it seemed almost a given that the Nationals were going to move on.
With the two teams tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, DNLL’s Rockwell Lybbert and Nate Thompson made it on base with a walk and a single, respectively, before Lybbert scored on a base hit by Will Fehrenbacher and Thompson made it home on a wild pitch.
Luke Carrell followed with a booming double that brought Fehrenbacher across the plate and then scored himself several at-bats later on a ground ball.
Later, Lybbert came back up to cap the inning with a two-run double that was within inches of being a home run, bouncing off the very top of the left-field fence and back into the field of play. Still, the hit put Davis up 7-1.
In the top of the fifth, the locals tacked on another score when Carrell scored off a single by Caden Difuntorum.
It was at this point, with the game seemingly in control, that things suddenly got interesting.
VALL scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and seemed poised to continue its comeback bid. But Difuntorum, who had taken the mound midway through the inning after VALL notched a one-run single and then given up the grand slam, remained unfazed and calmly struck out a batter to end the frame.
In the top of the sixth, Fehrenbacher gave Difuntorum a little more room to work with when he doubled home Lybbert. Difuntorum then struck out two batters and shut down Vacaville in the bottom of the inning.
Carrell started the game on the mound, striking out five and surrendering only one run in a little over two innings of action. Thompson and Lybbert bridged the gap between Carrell and Difuntorum and combined to strike out three in the process.
Offensively, Fehrenbacher went 4-for-5 with a double, Carrell was 3-for-5 with two doubles and Thompson finished 3-for-5 to pace Davis.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org