It isn’t surprising the Delta Valley Conference championship again came down to the final game between Davis and Elk Grove high schools.
Since the two schools have been together in the league, both were still alive for the title with two or fewer games to go five times in the past seven seasons.
Such was the case this year with the Thundering Herd winning its last two meetings with the Blue Devils on Tuesday and Wednesday — blocking DHS’ attempt for three straight DVC crowns.
Both coaches — Elk Grove’s Jeff Carlson and Davis’ Dan Ariola — are veterans who have sent handfuls of talent to the next level.
To wit, this season the Herd has pro prospect Derek Hill in center and the Devils boast pitcher/first baseman Matt Trask, headed to UCLA unless something pops come MLB draft time this June.
Names like Eckels, Nunez, Turay, Tellez, Keefer, Butterworth, Parker, Vina and Guevin have dotted the recent rivalry.
Thanks to Elk Grove’s 8-5 win on Wednesday, the Herd now holds a 16-15 edge during the past 11 seasons. Yeah, it’s that close.
After the Blue Devils took a detour to the Monticello Empire League (while Elk Grove stayed with Sacramento-area schools) more than 10 seasons ago, the two teams reunited in the DVC in 2007.
Since, one or the other has won the conference pennant (advantage Herd, 4-3).
Under Ariola’s guidance, DHS earned Sac-Joaquin Section titles in 2000 and 2004. Carlson, whose EGHS squad is the defending top dog, has won five — including three in a row in 2005-07. The Herd program has seven CIF titles.
Carlson is in his 14th season at the varsity helm; Ariola his 17th campaign. Both have kids on this year’s team (sophomore Dylan Carlson is a promising first baseman and senior John Ariola has been a reliable lead-off hitter and center fielder).
Notes: Next year these two powerhouses will have intruders to their to-date private Delta Valley Conference party — Pleasant Grove and Jesuit. The Eagles (19-4) won the Delta River League with five-time CIF winner JHS having a down season (15-9-1, 7-7 in DRL). Pleasant Grove is coached by DHS alum Rob Rinaldi. … By the by, Carlson earned Cal Hi Sports’ state Coach of the Year honors last season. … Included in the 16-15 Herd series lead is a 2-1 postseason mark against the Devils.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456