SACRAMENTO — A home run off Alec de Watteville’s bat seemed to be enough for the Oak Ridge High baseball team to pull out a first round Sac-Joaquin Section Division I victory over Davis Thursday afternoon at Union Stadium on the Sacramento City College campus.
But Davis pitcher Ben Eckels struck out 11 Trojan batters en route to a 5-2 victory over Oak Ridge. This was the second consecutive year Oak Ridge played Davis in the first round of the D-I playoffs; last spring, the Trojans beat the Blue Devils, 6-3 en route to play Jesuit for the section title.
The first round loss ends the season for Oak Ridge, which finished third in the Delta River League with an 11-4 record, 20-8 overall. Oak Ridge, along with league rivals Jesuit and league champion Pleasant Grove, were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, de Watteville, a junior shortstop, smacked the ball over the left field fence for a solo homer to give his Trojans a 2-1 lead.
“I just wanted to get a pitch down the pipe to inside and drive it,” de Watteville said of his home run.
Oak Ridge finished with only two hits in the game; right fielder Cody Morris led off the top of the second inning with a triple and scored on Mason Watkins’ sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-all.
Davis’ Joe Murray, Chris Gnos and Bobby Young started the bottom of the third inning with a double, single and another double that allowed two more runs across home plate for a 3-2. Two walks and a double off the bat of John Ariola led to the Blue Devils scoring another run in the bottom of the fifth inning for a 4-2 lead and added their final run the next inning on catcher’s interference with the bases loaded.
De Watteville and his Trojans tip their blue and gold hats toward Eckels, who was sturdy in seven innings of work en route to fanning 11 Oak Ridge batters.
“He had his stuff better this year (than last year when the Trojans faced the now senior Eckels) and their defense executed better this year,” de Watteville said.
Oak Ridge head coach Todd Melton said, “He matched the hype (as being one of Sacramento’s top prep pitchers.) He had the slider going.”
Despite the early post-season exit, Melton feels his Trojans will “reload” for spring 2013 and will compete for a Delta River League title.
“We’re just going to grind away and compete again,” Melton said. “We’ve got guys coming back who are going to work hard. They are hungry.”