Davis High baseball fans love it when Miramontes is being a smart Alec.
On Monday — without much command of his off-speed pitches — Alec Miramontes was really intelligent, thinking his way through a 4-3 win over visiting Franklin.
It was the first of two contests with the Wildcats that will end the Delta Valley Conference slate and determine who gets a May 20 Sac-Joaquin Section opener – and which school will have to play into the tournament on Monday (against the Monticello Empire League’s third-place team).
“Big win,” Blue Devil coach Dan Ariola understated after DHS evened the season series with Franklin at 1-1 and put the two teams in a final-game showdown.
Even though Franklin (18-7-1, 10-4) is a game behind the Devils (20-4-1, 11-3) in DVC play, a loss on the road Wednesday would yield the second-place tiebreaker to the ‘Cats, since Davis lost 4-3 last month to the Elk Grove school.
Got all that? As Raider fans used to say, “Just win, baby.”
On Monday, DHS opened up a 3-0, second-inning lead, thanks to an ultra-ugly rally …
Galen Hoshovsky led off with a walk. Blue Devil teammate Dillon Johnson walked. Ryan Plumb sacrificed the runners up, then was safe when catcher Jordan Owensby fumbled the ball. Bases loaded, nobody out, quickly became bases loaded, two out when Bobby Young forced Hoshovsky at home and Reid Hulziser struck out.
But Franklin ace Jordan Johnson (3-3) walked George Hatamiya, forcing in Dillon Johnson. Next, Josh Cosio’s chopper to short was bobbled, then thrown away by Kyle Von Ruden. Plumb and Young came home to give DHS three runs without the benefit of a hit.
Davis’ real run came in the fourth, thanks to Cosio’s single to center, plating Plumb, who opened the frame with a hit. Both teams managed only five hits.
“We’re definitely going to win Wednesday,” Miramontes said, fresh from his six-inning effort that ran his record to 5-0.
“Coming in, I knew I had to throw strikes, I knew they’d swing the bat. They have a couple of hitters at the top of the lineup, but after that, it falls off. If you throw strikes, you’ll get ‘em.”
Miramontes, whose earned run average was 0.73, was once again stingy — allowing five hits, all three Franklin runs (two earned) and fanning five, while walking one.
After the top two hitters in the Wildcat order, Franklin was 1-for-17 against Miramontes.
But on this day, the crafty right-hander had to fall back on a well-located fastball and some soothsaying — guessing one pitch ahead of what the opposing batters thought might be coming.
For example, in the third frame, the senior caught both Brandon Fong and Chris Pedersen looking.
During a rugged fifth inning — in which a weird infield hit, a throwing error and the only Franklin walk of the game meant two runs (one unearned) — Miramontes gutted it out, whiffing Owensby looking and willing Jordan Johnson (hitting .365) to foul out, ending the frame.
“He battled. We talked about him coming out after that inning,” Ariola explained. “But he said he was OK. His pitch count (88) wasn’t that high. He went one more.”
Leading 4-3, Miramontes twirled a 10-pitch sixth inning, sending Josh Pigg, Riley Simmons and Diego Rodriguez quickly back to the bench.
Ariola finally turned things over to Blue Devil reliever Reinert Toft to close the game out. The left-hander continued the trend, 1-2-3 — and DHS is on to Franklin to play for second place and a week’s rest.
Toft (1-1) lowered his ERA to 1.35 and picked up his second save of the season.
“I thought at the beginning I was going to be a starter,” Toft recalled. “But I’ve had to accept my role.
“Was this our biggest game yet? Oh yeah. But now we’ve got to keep playing. We’ve got to win Wednesday to get second, then go on to sections and keep winning.”
Ben Eckels (5-3, 0.93 ERA) will pitch for DHS at Franklin, which could throw Josh Pigg (4-2), Tyler Blake (3-0) or Von Ruden (6-0).
Notes: Ariola says Josh Merritt’s hand injury is getting better and, despite fanning in his pinch-hit appearance Monday, could be healthy enough for a regular lineup assignment. …Davis travels to Pleasant Grove on Friday for a nonleague encounter. … Lead-off hitter Hatamiya walked all four times up. … Two years ago, the Devils had to win the season finale at Franklin to tie for the DVC championship. Pitcher Corey MacDonald (headed to the University of Hawaii via Cosumnes River College) fanned 12 and won. DHS seniors — Hulsizer, Merritt, Hoshovsky, Miramontes, Johnson, Cosio and Chase Hunt-Murray — were honored before the game. Blake cracked a 375-foot home run off Miramontes in the fourth.