Davis quiets Oak Ridge bats, eliminates Trojans from playoffs

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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Oak Ridge?s hopes of bringing home its first Sac-Joaquin Section baseball championship will have to be put on hold for at least another year. The Trojans rode a 10-game win streak, in which they averaged more than 12 runs a game, into the first round of the Division I playoffs. On Thursday, however, they ran into a buzz saw in the form of Davis High ace Ben Eckels. Eckels held the Trojans to two runs on just two hits?their lowest offensive output in over a month?while fanning 12 in a 5-2 victory for the Blue Devils, eliminating Oak Ridge from the postseason. ?(Eckels) delivered like he was supposed to. He?s one of the best in the area and he matched the hype,? said Oak Ridge coach Todd Melton. The Trojans held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third. Down one run, Lance Berringer led off the second with a triple into the left-center gap on the first pitch he saw. Cody Morris brought him home with a sacrifice fly to left, tying the game at one. In the third, shortstop Alec de Watteville hooked a home run around the left field foul pole that gave Oak Ridge a brief 2-1 advantage. ?Eckels has a high (velocity) and I just wanted a pitch inside that I could drive. I got a little underneath it and got lucky,? said de Watteville of his third homer of the season. ?We had a couple innings with runners in scoring position and didn?t execute well. We need to capitalize on those opportunities.? Davis quickly responded in its half of the third. Joe Murray led off with a double and Chris Gnos singled to set the table for third baseman Bobby Young, who chopped a double over his counterpart at third to bring home Murray. Eckels then drove in Gnos with a groundout to de Watteville, reclaiming the lead for the Blue Devils. Oak Ridge starter Austin Root began to settle in after the third, pitching his way to his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. Root went five innings, giving up four runs and striking out three. He allowed his fourth and final run on a John Ariola single that plated Murray despite a close play at home. Davis picked up an insurance run in the sixth on a catcher?s interference call with the bases loaded. Eckels went on to retire 11 of the final 12 batters he faced to finish off his gem. Oak Ridge, who a year ago defeated Eckels and the Blue Devils in a bizarre and sloppy game to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2011 postseason, finishes its 2012 season at 20-8. All three Delta River League representatives were eliminated in the first round as Jesuit fell to Vacaville and Franklin upset Delta River League champion Pleasant Grove on Wednesday. ?I think we?re going to reload again next year. We?re hungry and as long as that first section title is out there for us, we?re going to keep coming back and working hard,? said Melton.