KAYSVILLE — While all the big boys from Bingham, American Fork and Taylorsville have been busy bludgeoning their baseball opponents in Salt Lake and Utah counties this season, there's this classy little bunch of guys from Davis High who are quietly having themselves one heck of a terrific year, too.
The Darts rode a strong pitching performance by junior right-hander Tyler Hall and a critical, difference-making catch by senior outfielder Corby Fuhriman to a 2-1 victory over Syracuse that clinched the Region 1 crown for the Kaysville crew Wednesday afternoon.
"The kids just keep working hard, and I'll be the first to tell you right now, a coach is only as good as the players he's got playing for him," said Davis High head coach Dave Leo, whose team improved to 13-1 in Region play and 19-2 overall with its 10th straight win and 15th victory in its last 16 games. The Darts have taken three straight league titles.
"I don't care who you are or what level you're on, you're pretty good if you've got players. And I've got some dandies.
"I'll be the first to tell you, I'm just along for the ride," Leo said. "All I do is schedule the buses and cancel 'em if it rains. I'm nothing more than a travel agent. And then you just turn 'em lose and get out of their way."
Hall went the distance, allowing just two hits and an unearned run while striking out six Syracuse batters. Hall's control was incredible, as 62 of the 78 pitches he threw were for strikes and — needless to say — he did not give up a walk.
"That's what you do when you've got the defense behind you," Hall said. "You just throw strikes and let them help you out. My changeup was working real well — I was able to keep it down — and I had good defense behind me."
Fuhriman came up with the play of the game in the seventh inning when he tracked down a leadoff drive that was hit to deep left field by Syracuse designated hitter Brandon Hammond. At the last possible second, Fuhriman dove and made a full-extension backhand grab of the ball, saving a certain extra-base hit that would've had the Titans (11-3, 14-8) knocking on the door.
"I was like, 'Well it's over my head so I'm just gonna go for it,' and I went for it and it came out right," said Fuhriman, who also knocked in the Darts' first run with an RBI single in the first inning. "I kind of ran up at first and I thought, 'Oh, that's out,' so I started running back. I felt pretty confident about it."
Hall and coach Leo marveled at the rally-killing catch.
"He saved me," Hall said of Fuhriman's great glove work. "I left that pitch up and (Hammond) hit it hard, but our good left fielder saved that one for me. It was a good hit, and he got a good jump on it."
"When he went after that ball, I really don't think he misplayed it. That kid just tatered it — it was ripped," Leo said. "When I saw him go up for it and lunge and start back down and I couldn't see the ball, I knew he had it. All I could say was, 'He caught it.' What a catch, huh? What a catch!"
Fuhriman's run-scoring single brought home Tanner Olsen with the Darts' first run in the first inning, and it remained 1-0 until the top of the fourth when Syracuse scored its only run — and could've had more.
The Titans' Hayden Udy reached base on an error and Braden Roberts sacrificed him to second. Jordan Pobanz then lived on another Davis error, and Hammond sliced a double down the right-field line that brought home Udy to tie it at 1-1.
But when a Titan base runner tried to score on a fly ball to short right field, Davis outfielder Carson Beyer gunned him down with a perfect throw to the plate.
Hall's superb pitching made that narrow one-run lead stand up the rest of the way.
"He has been strong for us all year," Leo said of Hall. "He's been my closer and he's had a couple of starts here and there. Early in the year, he was throwing two or three innings of every game, but he can throw every day."
Syracuse pitcher Jordan Cobabe took the hard-luck loss, going six innings and allowing just four hits and two runs, one of them earned, with four strikeouts and four walks.
"I knew we had a great chance, but we couldn't make any mistakes," Leo said of his team's quest to win this year's region championship. "I knew we could play; on paper, I had it all figured out. But then the guy behind the plate yells 'Play ball!' and you turn it over to 17- and 18-year-old kids.
"Our goal was to get the highest seed out of our region that we can possibly get and then stay in the state tournament as long as we can stay. ... That's our goal is to get to Salt Lake Community College (site of the 5A quarterfinals) and stay as long as we can."