KAYSVILLE — Suddenly, the Region 1 baseball race has gone from a two-team battle between Davis and Clearfield to a three-team battle with Fremont a half-length behind.
Even if Davis High entered the season as one of the favorites to hoist the trophy and the Darts have, to this point, held serve, it’s been anything but cut and dried for them.
A day after beating Weber despite blowing a six-run lead in the seventh inning, Davis kicked off the first of a five-game stretch that may ultimately decide the region title.
The Darts (12-6, 9-2 Region 1) beat Clearfield 5-2 on their home field, doing the damage in a fifth inning that lasted nearly 30 minutes. When that fifth frame arrived, it was a 1-1 ballgame traveling at a pleasant place.
The first sign the action was picking up came when Davis pinch-hitter Michael Phearson’s ground ball to the third base side took a weird hop over an in-position Bryson Hirabayashi, bringing in the run that made it 2-1.
Garrett Larsen, the team’s leading batter at .417 coming into Friday, hit a single. Stockton Hall barely beat out a ground ball to first base, Bryson Hales singled and Tyler Jorgensen drew a bases-loaded walk.
Clearfield (8-8, 6-4) changed pitchers three times in the inning to no avail and it was now a 5-1 deficit for a team that didn’t take advantage of earlier chances.
The Falcons loaded the bases in the first but Davis pitcher Jake Wendt forced a flyout to end the inning. In the third, Ethan Giacalone hit the third of three straight singles by Clearfield to bring a runner home.
“That kind of was the game, to keep them from scoring early in the first three innings when they had plenty of guys on base. And then we started to hit,” Darts coach Josh Godfrey said.
Clearfield went down 1-2-3 in the fifth inning, the first time it faced Jorgensen. Two Falcon runners got on base in the sixth and didn’t score.
Conner Coleman brought home Taylor Sato in the top of the seventh after Sato’s double literally came 12 inches away from a home run. That was all the Falcons had in the tank, though.
Part of that had to do with Jorgensen, who, funny enough, pitched for Clearfield last season. Jorgensen started in center field, then pitched the final three innings of the game.
The Darts haven’t had much pitching continuity this year. They’ve started six pitchers and brought in five others from the bullpen.
“The focus is on being prepared and the coaches help us with being prepared all the time, constantly telling us, ‘Be ready, go and be ready’ — and that’s for the whole team, not just pitchers,” Jorgensen said.
Clearfield and Davis were initially scheduled to play a doubleheader Friday but the two squads will now play their makeup game next Thursday.
Here’s why that’s a big deal: next week is the Falcons’ bye week, so Davis will be their only game.
Ostensibly, that means Clearfield can trot out senior ace Bryson Hirabayashi to the mound. On Wednesday, Hirabayashi threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in a 3-0 win over Davis in which he struck out 13 batters and allowed four total baserunners.
He’s 4-1 this season with a 1.65 ERA in 34 innings, with 57 strikeouts recorded against just 13 walks.
The Darts, meanwhile, get Fremont for three pivotal games next week in addition to the matchup with Clearfield. The Silver Wolves entered Friday in second place at 7-3 in the region.