Let’s get on with it!
That’s what the Davis High baseball players probably said while they watched from the shelter of their dugout as raindrops fell on Thursday.
The Delta Valley Conference opener at Franklin was washed out, making it nine straight days that the Blue Devils haven’t played a baseball game. DHS coach Dan Ariola hopes Friday’s scheduled home contest with Grant (4 p.m.) will signify the beginning of league play. Forecasts call for cloudy skies and a 10 percent chance of rain.
“It’s always kind of strange when you have a week off,” Ariola told The Enterprise. “When you do get back on the field, it feels like your first game of the year.
“We’re ready, though.”
The Devils started the season 6-1. Since then they’ve gone 1-4, including three losses in last week’s Fresno Easter Classic.
“When you come back from Fresno, you always have a few guys who are (tired) and sore, so in that regard, it’s nice to have a few days off,” Ariola said.
But now it gets serious …
Davis, which shared the DVC crown with Elk Grove in 2012, hopes to take better care of the baseball from here on out.
The locals have made 21 errors in 12 contests while pitchers have hit 10 batters and committed a handful of wild pitches.
“We have to bounce back after some tough games,” the longtime skipper added. “We just have to play solidly. We’ve been making too many mistakes — giving up too many free bases … throwing the ball around.”
With Grant (8-4) and Elk Grove (8-2) sporting outstanding pitching staffs and Franklin (5-6) coming off a season in which it was the Sac-Joaquin Section runner-up, Ariola knows his charges have their work cut out for them once league play finally begins:
“We have to take care of what we can control. And once we do that, we’ll get back on track.”
Ariola says the Pacers’ mound tandem of Branden Nunn and left-hander Cameron Avila-Leeper “worry me.” Together, the duo sport a 1.24 earned run average and have combined for five wins. Avila-Leeper fanned 16 Franklin batters in a win last season.
Elk Grove has a monster at the plate in pro prospect Ryan Tellez (.467) and a couple of solid hurlers of their own: David Smith (2-1, 1.65) and Mike Wright (2-0, 1.24).
Laguna Creek, which seemed poised to move up this spring, has been struggling at 3-9 and Monterey Trail (2-11) appears to be a non-starter in the pennant chase.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have been led by senior infielder Joe Murray and pitcher Matt Trask.
Murray, batting first, second and occasionally third in the lineup, is hitting .436 and leads the team with 10 runs batted in. He and junior outfielder John Ariola have scored a club-high nine runs.
Ryan Kreidler, just a freshman, has seen time at shortstop, third base and the outfield. He’s hitting .303 and has driven in nine runs. On three other occasions, with runners in scoring position, he hit rockets right at opposing fielders.
And then there’s junior Trask …
The big right-hander is 3-1 with a microscopic 0.73 ERA. He’s struck out about one batter for every inning pitched (20) and is hitting .393 while seeing a lot of field time at first base.
Trask is expected to start Saturday in the 11 a.m. makeup game at Franklin. As long as Trask is on, the Devils are in the mix when talking championship.
“Are there surprises this year? Not really. I expect everyone to perform,” Ariola said. “But Joe Murray is having a huge year. Ryan Kreidler is doing a great job for a young kid. But because we play a lot in the summer and fall, I usually know what we have.
“We just need to tighten this up.”
Notes: DHS’ last game was a 3-0 setback to Frontier at Fresno City College on March 27. The Titans (14-3-1) went on to beat San Joaquin Memorial, 8-1, for the Fresno Easter Classic title. … Pitcher Dan Martin is out with another knee injury. He has battled knee problems over the past three years, reinjuring the joint last Sept. 7 while catching a 71-yard touchdown pass in the Devil football team’s 62-0 win over Armijo. … John Ariola is hitting .342; versatile Trey Golston, who has been coming on of late, is now hitting. 389; and Chris Daunt has the Devils’ only round-tripper. Jake Miille (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has been lights out from the bullpen in his 13 innings. He also has a save. … Bobby Young (1-3, 3.10 ERA) is Friday’s starting pitcher.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.