One half-inning is all it took for Vintage to break a deadlocked game wide open.
After playing relatively clean for most of Friday’s nonleague matchup, the Davis High baseball team imploded in the top of the seventh inning, giving up five runs, which were the difference in a 7-2 home loss.
“We just didn’t play well (Friday), really,” DHS coach Dan Ariola told The Enterprise. “You gotta give Vintage credit. Their guys did a good job and I kind of got away from the offense, but the Vintage pitchers threw well.”
Things began to go wrong in the top of the seventh from the very first pitch. With the Devils (8-5-1) and Crushers (9-7) tied at 2-2, Vintage first baseman Joe Canepa crushed a fastball that cleared the center-field fence and gave his team a one-run lead.
The tiebreaking home run was the beginning of the end for the locals.
After getting a pop-up, Davis pitcher Ted Riffle walked the following batter, which prompted Ariola to bring in junior Kris Prince.
Prince got Jared Horn to fly out to center, which moved the runner over. Matt McLeod then hit a flare single over the glove of first baseman Matt Trask, which scored Jankewicz, giving the Crushers a more commanding 4-2 advantage.
What followed was a bevy of wild pitches and uncharacteristic errors, which allowed three more runners to come home, effectively ending the Blue Devils’ chances.
Ariola credited the loss to the seven walks that the four DHS pitchers issued.
“Walks, we had a lot of walks (Friday),” Ariola said. “We just weren’t sharp (Friday), but you know my guys haven’t pitched a lot, they haven’t been getting a lot of innings lately, so it’ll help them for next week.”
Ariola was asked if he was concerned about pitching depth behind Trask, Brett Bloomfield, Trey Golston and Ryan Kreidler?
“I wouldn’t say I’m concerned,” said the veteran coach. “I’m trying to find who ‘that guy’ is. After your … four guys, usually your fifth guy doesn’t get a whole lot of work. I’m still trying to find a third starter when we come back. Next week, we’re going Grant, Grant, Laguna so we’re going to need a third guy.”
Ariola said that he plans to call sophomore pitcher Pierce Tujo up from junior varsity for one of the Devils’ two Boras Baseball Classic games (10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) on Tuesday in Sacramento. Tujo pitched for Ariola during this past summer season.
As for the offense, the typical DHS style of manufacturing runs was absent on Friday. After hitting several successful bunts and sacrifice flies against Franklin on Thursday, the Blue Devils got away from that approach against the Crushers.
“We started off doing a couple things pretty good,” Ariola said. “Then, after that, we missed a sign. Their pitcher was kind of wild and their catcher could really throw. I didn’t want us to run ourselves out of an inning. It just didn’t work for us (Friday).”
There also were missed opportunities …
After falling behind 1-0 early, the locals used two infield singles and a Vintage error to load the bases with no outs for cleanup hitter Trask. The senior, however, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. John Ariola came home on the play to tie things up, but that was all Davis would get in that frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Nate Curtis hit a sharp single, and advanced to third when Drew Gnos slapped a double over the left fielder’s head. Curtis came home on a wild pitch to give the Devils a 2-1 advantage, but that lead evaporated as quickly as it appeared as the Crushers tied the score immediately in the fifth.
Notes: After next week’s Boras Baseball Classic, the Blue Devils (5-2 Delta Valley Conference) will have two key matchups with Grant (4-3) on April 22 and 24. DHS dropped a 3-0 contest to the Pacers earlier this season, so it will need to win both games to clinch the season series and own the tiebreaker between the two teams. Ariola said that if the Devils hold at least two tiebreakers — they already have one over 4-3 Franklin — they will likely earn a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Those three teams plus 5-2 Elk Grove, four of the best squads in the area, are battling for just three DVC postseason spots.
— Reach Thomas Oide at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas. View galleries and purchase prints of Blue Devil sports photos at http://davisenterprise.zenfolio.com.