STOCKTON -- Davis High School senior center fielder John Ariola couldn’t restrain the tears as he milled among his celebrating teammates Saturday at Klein Family Field at Pacific.
The Blue Devils had just defeated perennial finalist St. Mary’s of Stockton 3-2 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, giving his father Dan, the longtime Blue Devils coach, his third section banner and first since 2004.
It came after Davis (22-13-1) was forced into a do-or-die final in the best-of-three series when the Rams (21-15) held off the Blue Devils 1-0 with a dramatic seventh-inning stand.
While John was happy for his father, the tears were for his teammates.
“This is not about me and my dad. It’s about the team and the seniors,” Ariola said. “I’ve been playing with these guys since they were 7 or 8 years old. This is the best way to go out.
“But right now I don’t want to leave this field.”
Amazing defense and stellar pitching dominated Saturday’s doubleheader as the two games produced 19 hits and plenty of nervous moments for the fans of the two schools.
“I love these kind of games. They’re awesome and make everybody better,” said senior pitcher-second baseman Brett Bloomfield. “They’re unforgettable.”
In the first game, Davis loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh on two walks and a Bloomfield single before reliever Steven Vasquez struck out swinging Blue Devils slugger Matt Trask and Trey Golston to end the game.
The only run came in the third with two outs when Cade Peters singled to right, then scored on a close play at home plate after Ripken Reyes had doubled to left center.
Bloomfield went the distance and allowed five hits. Starter Sean Jumaoas and Vasquez combined for a three-hitter.
“I just told the guys, ‘Hey, we’ve been here before. Let’s go out and get it going,’ ” Dan Ariola said.
The Blue Devils responded with three consecutive hits to open the first inning of the nightcap.
Ariola singled to lead off, Bloomfield tripled him home, and sophomore shortstop Ryan Kreidler singled in Bloomfield. Kreidler scored on Golston’s groundout to short, a run that would stand up the rest of the way.
Junior Kris Prince, who started for the first time May 23 and went the distance in beating Elk Grove 5-2 in the D-I North championship game, was stellar again. He went seven innings, allowed four hits, walked two and hit one batter.
“Kris pitched so great,” John Ariola said. “He’s such a hard worker. Two starts in the playoffs against probably the two best teams in the section, and he gets complete game wins. Are you kidding me?”
There is no kidding about the talent of Kreidler, who entered the game hitting a team-high .433 with 26 RBIs. He had four hits in the two games, including two doubles, and made a couple of remarkable plays at short.
While Kreidler will be back next season, John Ariola, Bloomfield and Trask – the pro prospect and UCLA signee who was walked four times in seven plate appearances Saturday – are among eight seniors whose prep careers ended with a section title.
“It means a lot to win the first section championship in 10 years, especially for coach Ariola because he is close to retiring,” said Bloomfield, who will play at Kansas. “It also means a lot for our town.”
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.