YOUNTVILLE – Josh Guerrero made his Blue Devil varsity pitching debut Saturday and — given the junior right-hander’s brilliant four-inning stint — it looks like the locals have yet another live arm on which to fall back.
“I am very happy with Josh’s outing,” Davis High coach Dan Ariola said after his crew won a 4-3 decision over Vintage in the idyllic setting of Cleve Borman Field at the Veterans Home of California on Saturday afternoon.
“He had his command and pitched well,” the skipper continued, noting the Devils “had a few chances to break through … we just didn’t get the big hit.”
Having Guerrero sharp early and relievers Daniel Martin and Adam Inouye doing their jobs, Davis made just enough of its offensive opportunities and ran its record to 5-1. The Crushers fell to 4-5.
Wasting no time, the Blue Devils got to Vintage’s dandy lefty Matt Estes early.
Joe Murray continued his serious approach as lead-off hitter by working a walk. John Ariola — who would go 3-for-3 on the day — singled sharply to right. Chris Daunt’s sacrifice attempt turned into a bunt single and Davis had set up shop: bases loaded, nobody out.
With visions of a big inning in mind, Estes lost Bobby Young to a walk as Murray trotted home with an early run.
But Estes got Matt Trask to fly to short right (no advances possible) and was fortunate that Ryan Kreidler’s sharp grounder went right at the shortstop, who turned it into an inning-ending twin killing.
In the bottom of the frame, Gabe Reyes greeted Guerrero with a triple to center. Knowing this was a first-time starter on the mound, the crowd dug in to see which way Guerrero would go.
Vintage fans were almost immediately disappointed … Guerrero dug in.
After Davis got two quick outs, Reyes still stood at third. But baseball gods work in strange fashion. On a 2-2 pitch to clean-up hitter Estes, Guerrero uncorked a wild pitch, giving Reyes a charity pass to the plate. And wouldn’t you know it? On the next offering, Estes struck out to retire the side.
But the young hurler had served notice: He can bear down. And bear down he did over the next three innings (no hits, three more K’s) as Davis scratched out a go-ahead run when Ariola the Younger led off the frame by getting hit, eventually scoring after Daunt’s single and a wild pitch of Estes’ own.
As Davis left 10 runners stranded through five innings, Ariola the Elder called Martin from the bullpen to hold the day.
Martin authored a quick bottom of the inning (aided by a nice play by third baseman Trey Golston).
Going to the sixth, it finally looked like the Devils would have that big inning.
Murray opened by reaching on an error. Ariola singled and Daunt reached safely on his sacrifice bunt when reliever Aaron Shortridge decided to try on get Murray at third (the throw was late). Another bases-loaded, nobody out spot for Davis.
A Devil struck out before Trask’s sharp RBI single to right moved everyone up 90 feet. Kreidler bounced into a third-to-home force-out — but those crazy baseball gods were at it again…
For all the world, Shortridge looked like he was working out of the inning. But with two outs and a 2-2 count on the next Davis hitter, the Crusher reliever served one to the backstop. Home came Daunt. Shortridge then retired the side on a strikeout.
With Davis now up 4-1, Vintage nudged itself back in the game when Jared Lemke’s two-out flare to right drove home two before he was the final out of the sixth on a Brett Bloomfield-to-Kreidler play.
Davis didn’t score in the seventh (leaving two more on base), but Inouye was strong in closing out the Crushers for the save — although the last out came with a Vintage runner standing at third.
“Daniel pitched well. That was a blooper. He made good pitches and was almost out of the inning,” Dan Ariola told The Enterprise. “Then we got a good seventh from Adam.”
Now Davis travels to Pleasant Grove (4-2) for a 4 p.m. game Tuesday, then is at Raley Field on Friday (6:30 p.m.) to play Jesuit (4-2).
Notes: Josh Guerrero’s brother Manny is a senior Devil hurler. …In Friday’s 3-2 loss to visiting Rocklin, Davis ran into the Thunder’s 1-2 mound punch of Logan Webb and Austin Dick. The Devils managed only five hits, wasting Young’s three-hit performance over five sterling innings. Red-hot John Ariola went 2-for-3, scoring and driving in runs. Bloomfield singled and scored and Trask had an RBI base hit. Jake Miille was again solid in relief — no runs in two innings. …Skipper Ariola says Trask (2-0) gets the start against the Eagles with Young pitching at Raley. …Speaking of Raley Field, the Pacific Coast League home of the River Cats got a new playing surface over the winter — making the grass literally greener on the other side (of the Causeway). …The “old soldiers’ home” at Yountville is the largest in the United States, serving more than 1,100 aged and disabled veterans from World War II to the present. It was founded in 1884.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.