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DHS' Nate Curtis is out at third base as Elk Grove's Brooks Day (8) holds the ball in Wednesday's 8-5 Thundering Herd home win. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo


Herd’s six-run first costs Devils title, playoff bye

By From page B1 | May 08, 2014

ELK GROVE — It wasn’t what Davis High had in its script …

All the Blue-and-White needed to do this week was win one of two games with Elk Grove and a third straight Delta Valley Conference baseball title was theirs.

But on the Blue Devils’ way to that pennant, the Thundering Herd rewrote the ending.

Scoring six times in the first inning, home-standing Elk Grove held on for an 8-5 win on Wednesday to capture the flag.

“We came back. I told the guys we had some great at-bats,” veteran skipper Dan Ariola said after ending the regular season at 15-11-1 (11-4 in DVC). “Kris (Prince) and Ted (Riffle) did a great job coming in and keeping us from getting blown out.”

Five hits and an error greeted DHS starter Brett Bloomfield (3-3) in the first inning. After two more tallies in the second, the Herd was leading 8-0.

Going back to Tuesday’s come-from-behind 6-4 win, Elk Grove had scored 14 times in its last four innings against the locals.

Threatening to knock out the Devils, the Herd (22-4, 13-2) had eight men in and Ty Madrigal was standing at second with only one out in the second inning.

In came reliever Prince.

The right-hander was perfect. Quickly getting Davis out of the second, the 6-foot junior retired eight straight before giving way to Riffle for the fifth and sixth innings.

Riffle, a senior, was almost as effective, holding the hosts without a run on just two hits.

Meanwhile, back came the Blue Devils …

John Ariola’s two-out single plated Nate Curtis in the fourth.

Another two-out hit — Quentin McCray’s booming double over Madrigal’s head in left — drove home Matt Trask and Trey Golston in the fifth.

Elk Grove winner Chris Martin (5-2) made DHS waste Drew Gnos’ lead-off single in the next inning — before the Devils went down swinging in the seventh.

The Herd’s Austin del Chiaro, who started the game at second for ineligible Carlos Moseley, came on to pitch the last inning.

With two on and one out, Jared McNece’s fielder’s choice brought in Golston before Gnos — with another two-out hit — knocked in Curtis.

The tying run stepped to the plate in the form of John Ariola, a senior who had walked and singled in four appearances.

His sizzling liner almost kept the rally going, but a staggering Elk Grove second baseman made a lunging catch and that was that.

“John had a shot there,” dad Dan noted. “John ripped it. If he’s going to hit a ball hard (that was the time). He hit a ball hard.”

Now it’s on to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Davis, sitting at second place in league, will meet Granite Bay on Monday at DHS. The Grizzlies (15-11, 9-6) finished third in the Sierra Foothill League. Game time is 4 p.m. Defending champion Elk Grove gets a first-round bye.

Notes: After Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane stopped by Davis High on Tuesday to look at Elk Grove center fielder Derek Hill, it was San Francisco GM Brian Sabean’s turn on Wednesday at Elk Grove. The Giants even worked out Hill after the game. It’s expected that the senior — who in 2012 as a sophomore hit two home runs and drove in seven in a game against the Devils — will be a high MLB draft pick. Some scouts say first round. … Ariola’s line-drive out was just one of a handful of hard outs for DHS. McNece, Ryan Kreidler and Golston (twice) hit deep flies to the outfield — each time either Madrigal or Hill was positioned correctly to make catches at the fence. … The first two playoff rounds are lose-and-go-home affairs. … Should the Devils survive the first round, next up would be Monticello Empire League champ Vacaville (16-10, 10-5) next Thursday at Sacramento City College (4 p.m.).

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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