Take a breath, Blue Devils. You’ve earned it.
After Matt Trask’s walk-off single scored Brett Bloomfield with the winning run, Davis High had beaten visiting Elk Grove, 3-2, on Tuesday — winning outright the Delta Valley Conference baseball championship.
The win was significant in that DHS now gets to regroup with a first-round bye in next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and won’t play again until next Thursday (against the winner of a play-in game).
“This is huge,” Davis skipper Dan Arriola said afterward. “A league championship! I knew we had the guys who could bounce back (after Friday’s 12-2 loss at Elk Grove).”
The Devils (21-6, 14-1) finished one game ahead of The Herd (21-5, 13-2), thanks to taking two out of three from Elk Grove, both times on game-ending hits by Trask.
Before a crowd that swelled to 500, local starter Bobby Young and the Thundering Herd’s Michael Wright went toe-to-toe through six innings — tied at 2-2 in a game worthy of reality TV.
In this Davis vs. Goliath — played under protest by both schools — it seemed that each pitch brought renewed drama.
(Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson, according to Ariola, protested that suspended infielder Joe Murray was in the Blue Devil dugout and should have been removed from the field. Murray was ejected Friday after a collision at the plate with The Grove’s Dom Nunez and, by rule, was forced to sit out one game.
(Meanwhile, Ariola protested Carlson’s objection because the DHS coach said the umpire — when asked before the game — didn’t object to Murray’s presence. Murray left the dugout in the early innings.)
“I don’t think it means too much,” Ariola explained. “I wasn’t told he couldn’t be in the dugout.”
That pending ruling aside, on the field it was another chapter in a storied rivalry.
Elk Grove broke on top when slugger Ryan Tellez drilled a first-inning RBI double off the fence in center field.
However, Devil catcher Hayden Duer — whose scrambling stops saved another couple of Herd runs from scoring throughout the course of the contest — eventually erased Tellez by throwing through to second baseman Bloomfield to back-pick the probable MLB draft pick.
Davis’ Trey Golston, who played the hot corner like the Devil he is, denied an Elk Grove run in the third inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Derek Hill hit a check-swing roller at Golston. The third baseman fielded it and had only one play — dive to the bag to force a fast-approaching Nunez. Golston’s glove beat Nunez in a photo finish.
In the bottom of the frame, DHS broke through …
Golston led off with a single to right and Bloomfield followed with a walk. A passed ball and a wild pitch put them at second and third with nobody out. After a lazy fly ball to center took some of the pressure off, Chris Daunt’s grounder to first scored Golston.
Trask walked and Young was plunked with a pitch, loading the bases and setting the stage for Ryan Kreidler.
He delivered. Kreidler’s smash off Wright’s glove died on the infield grass and Bloomfield came home.
With Duer digging in, Elk Grove tried to pick off Kreidler. The field umpire called him safe with another Davis run seemingly coming home. But the home plate ump overruled the call — Kreidler was out — and the inning was mystically over.
“I just didn’t understand it,” Ariola told The Enterprise. “I thought we had a run and the inning was still going. I have no idea if a player asked for help or if the coaches asked for help. All of a sudden they’re calling him out.”
A couple of uneventful innings — highlighted by Golston’s terrific diving stop to throw out Landon Gastelum — led to a spooky sixth inning for the locals.
Two errors on infield grounders allowed Nunez and Tellez to reach with nobody out. On Hill’s roller to Golston, Nunez was tagged out, but a wild pitch moved Tellez and Hill into scoring position. Wright’s sacrifice fly tied the game, Dylan Carlson walked and Young — a warrior on this day — was relieved by Adam Inouye.
The senior right-hander fanned Ty Madrigal to end the threat, then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to set up Trask’s and Bloomfield’s heroics. Inouye earned the win to improve to 4-0.
Meanwhile, Elk Grove ace David Smith (8-2) replaced Wright in the bottom of the seventh.
With one out, it was left-hand-hitting Bloomfield’s double into the left-field corner that began the championship surge.
After Ariola walked and Daunt reached on catcher’s interference, Trask delivered.
Bloomfield, who had whiffed twice against Smith on Friday, talked about his approach after falling behind again 0-2 …
“When we (lost) at Elk Grove, I struck out twice on high-and-away pitches,” the junior infielder recalled. “So I knew they were going to go there again — at least on the next couple of pitches.
“So I was looking for it. (Smith) missed a little bit low.”
Notes: Davis’ May 16 playoff opener is set for 7 p.m. at Sacramento City College against the winner of Monday’s play-in game between the Delta River League No. 3 squad and the Sierra Foothill No. 2. Going into their games Wednesday, Pleasant Grove, Jesuit and Oak Ridge are all 11-3 in DRL. Either Woodcreek or Rocklin are expected to be the SFL runner-up. “All the teams are good now,” Ariola said of the 12-school CIF Northern Division. The first two rounds are win or go home for the also-rans. If the four league winners lose their first games, they also exit after one game. “There are some great arms in those two leagues,” Ariola added. … Meanwhile, Elk Grove meets the Monticello Empire League No. 3 — a spot any one of four teams could earn. The Herd will play that game at home. … .And about that Goliath thing? The Herd has 77 extra-base hits, including 13 homers. The Devils have 42 extra-base hits — and just one ding-dong (Daunt). Both teams, however, are hitting in the mid.330s.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.