On most spring and summer days, the Davis Little League Complex is a great spot to be because of the exciting baseball and the family-friendly atmosphere.
On Independence Day, the organizations annual All-Star event attracted even more spectators, many supporting family and friends who played in the star-studded affairs, and others celebrating the holiday by watching America’s pastime.
In fact, so many people attended that three cars were parked illegally and were forced to move all the way down the street.
Both the Majors and AAA games Thursday morning were slugfests with the American League All-Star squads winning 11-6 and 12-2, respectively.
“(Baseball on the Fourth of July) celebrates what Little League is all about,” DLL board member Jack Dapkewicz said. “You have 4, 5, and 6-year olds playing on the majors field, it just provides another chance for kids to play baseball. It’s all about the kids, and the kids always have fun out here.”
The AA National All-Star team truly embraced its last Little League game of the year, as instead of taking the field in their normal spring season jerseys, the kids broke out red, black and blue Sharpies on white T-shirts.
All of the players had numbers and names scrawled across their backs, with “All-Stars” written across the front in red and blue.
“(All-Star games) are special games,” DLL president Steve Olney added. “Games are set up, it’s exhibition, anybody from any regular season team can get on one of these teams. It’s Independence Day, that’s what makes it special.”
Jake Guerrero, whose brothers Josh and Manny play for the Davis High baseball program, woke up early to support his young nephew, who played in the T-Ball All-Star game.
“Even though it’s T-Ball, it’s still an honor to play in an All-Star game,” Guerrero said, as he paused to cheer on his nephew, Jordan Current, who smacked a hit and toddled his way to first base.
The Guerreros were joined by former DHS and current Yolo Post 77 slugger Hayden Duer to support the young stars.
“All the positivity and the support from the parents is great,” Duer said. “All of the kids are excited to play baseball, so everybody’s excited to watch.”
Duer’s coach this spring with the Blue Devils, Dan Ariola, was on hand to watch his younger son Joe play.
“It’s just a showcase day for all these kids,” Ariola said. “Having their games being announced, and watching them learn how to play is really refreshing for me.”
Some of the sights at the DLL field were common, the long lines at the Snack Shack — which was trying to get rid of all the extra food they had left before the end of Little League season — and the familiar cry of “Snow Cones!” as players scrambled out of the dugout to be first in line.
The main attraction of the day was the Majors All-Star matchup, and it lived up to its reputation.
Davis National was the first to get on the board, thanks to a two-out dinger from slugger Noah Faber, who also made several key defensive stops throughout the contest.
However, American pitcher Nate Stoltz bared down and got Will Ziegler to ground to first. DALL first baseman Kayden Hoal fielded the ball but began to fall off-balance. Stoltz sprinted over to first base and Hoal was able to toss the ball over to get the third out.
American’s Hank Schaaf then led off their half of the first with a single up the middle. Shaan Nahal then knocked another single, Hoal worked a walk to load the bases and Derek Lerman followed suit to bring the tying run home. After two strikeouts by DNLL pitcher Griffin Long, Theo Blewett worked another bases-loaded free pass to bring in the go-ahead run. It was a lead Davis American would not relinquish.
After Stoltz kept the National lineup in check in the top of the second, the American offense exploded. Stoltz led off with a single, but was called out when Schaaf hit into a fielder’s choice. Nahal followed with a walk to put runners on first and second.
Hoal stepped up to the plate next and took a 2-0 pitch over the fence in left-center field, extending American’s lead to 5-1.
Not to be outdone by Hoal, Lerman stepped up and took the first pitch of the at-bat over the fence in right field to make it 6-1.
Gabe Murray then worked a walk, and came around the bases by stealing second and taking third and home on passed balls.
In the top of the third, Hoal came in to pitch, saw three batters, and mowed down each of them with his fastball.
American started the bottom of the frame at the top of their order. After a Schaaf flyout, Nahal again worked a free pass with Hoal doing the same. In his last game as a Little Leaguer, Lerman wanted to go out with a bang — actually two bangs — and he did just that, crushing a 1-1 pitch over the fence in center, plating Nahal and Hoal and putting his team up 10-1.
But Faber was determined to keep Davis National in the game. Finding himself at the plate with two outs in the fourth inning, Faber destroyed the first pitch, putting it into the adjacent field. And the DNLL All-Stars weren’t finished.
In fact, after allowing another run to fall behind 11-2, the Nationals started to get it going …
Kenny Wanderstat worked a free pass, which was followed by an Ethan Gross walk. Hunter Olney slapped a single that was just out of shortstop Murray’s reach.
Later, when Silas Kirsh earned a walk and scored on a series of wild pitches, DNLL had closed the gap to 11-6.
However, it was solid defense by the Americans that secured the win. Nahal made a nice diving play to record the first out of the final frame, and right fielder Murray, added an acrobatic, leaping over-the-shoulder catch for the final out.
Going on at the same time on the adjacent field, the AAA game featured similar highlights, with the Americans prevailing 12-2. DALL was led by Zane Bentero, who went 2-for-3; Jason Hankel, who went 3-for-3 with a double; and Brady Nelson, who finished 2-for-3.
The Davis National AAA squad was led by Josh Davis, who slapped a double and went 2-for-3, and Allen Rockwell, who was 1-for-1 with a run scored.
Notes: Several Blue Devil athletes were in attendance to check out Davis’ future stars. Among them were pitcher Matt Trask, soccer player Olivia Haass and former DHS boys soccer standout Ryan Gross, who now plays for UC Davis.