Prep baseball: Davis to meet rival Franklin in D-I baseball duel

Published: Friday, May. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Friday, May. 25, 2012 - 12:25 am

Today is Senior Ditch Day at Davis High School, meaning those closing in on graduation generally play hooky and go hang out at, say, the library for kicks and giggles.

Rest assured, the seniors for the Blue Devils baseball team will be in the front row of classes with their minds on the urgency of today's engagement against rival Franklin of Elk Grove.

With Ben Eckels dueling Elway Santistevan in a terrific, fast-paced pitching duel, Davis beat Vacaville 2-1 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North losers' bracket final at blustery Sacramento City College on Thursday night.

Davis must beat Franklin twice at Sac City in order to claim the program's third North title since 2001, all under coach Dan Ariola. The veteran Blue Devils skipper was brimming with confidence after the Eckels' latest gem. Ariola raved about Eckels (7-2) and the amount of arms the Blue Devils still have to challenge well-rested Franklin, the lone unbeaten team in this large-school event. Relying on his fastball and slider, Eckels allowed four hits and struck out 11, giving him 23 strikeouts in two dominating performances this postseason.

Santistevan, who beat Jesuit 3-2 in a playoff opener, struck out four and allowed two hits. The first one was a towering fly ball by Eckels in the first inning to right field that got moved around by the wind and dropped for a triple, scoring Bobby Young for a 2-0 lead. Young's RBI groundout scored George Hatamiya.

"I love it," a grinning Eckels said of his performance, his team's drive and the Blue Devils' chances. "We're going to play two games (today). And we're all going to school (today)."

Rams waiting – St. Mary's of Stockton awaits the winner of the D-I North after beating Buhach Colony of Atwater 9-1 at Pacific to clinch the South on Wednesday. The South concluded earlier than the North because of stadium usage conflicts later in the week.

Woodcreek surges – Woodcreek beat Rocklin 5-0 and 4-3 Wednesday night at American River College, setting up an all-Sierra Foothill League D-II finale Monday night at Sac City against Granite Bay. Stephen Nogosek tossed a two-hitter in the 5-0 Woodcreek win and then came in to record the final out of the nightcap with a strikeout.

Eagles' rarified air – El Camino swept four-time D-III champion Yuba City with a 5-1 clincher Wednesday to reach its first title game in any division. Mike Frantz tossed a complete-game six-hitter with six strikeouts, and Dee Kuwabara drove in two runs and scored twice for the Eagles. El Camino plays Rodriguez of Fairfield on Monday at Sac City.

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