NEWPORT BEACH — Blake Davey’s home white baseball pants are, at this point, more of a mud-stained beige. No matter how much bleach the senior catcher uses, his Newport Harbor High uniform comes out at least a couple shades darker than clean.
But with one swing of the bat Tuesday, Davey did his part to wipe clean two decades of diamond futility for the Sailors.
Davey’s line drive, bad-hop walk-off double, that bounded over Roosevelt’s charging left fielder, allowed Steve Guerin to score from first base with the deciding run in the seventh inning of a 3-2 victory in the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.
The victory, in the first postseason appearance since 1990 for the Newport Harbor program, propels Coach Patrick Murphy’s squad into the first round Friday. Newport Harbor (17-10) will visit Adolfo Camarillo High to meet the Pacific View League champion at 3:15.
“I don’t think there is any better feeling than a walk-off hit,” said Davey, a cleanup hitter who went three for four and drove in two runs. “It’s probably the best feeling in baseball.”
Davey, by virtue of the physical toll exacted by his devotion to rugged play, is not in the habit of feeling good.
He has battled blisters on both feet, which recently required him to play with one tennis shoe and one cleat. Another recent wound, on his left index finger, became infected. And, for good measure, he sustained a gash that required more gauze and tape when a Roosevelt player slid into his tag at the plate, jarring the ball loose by planting his rubber cleat into the back of Davey’s right throwing hand.
“Look at him,” Murphy said of Davey after the game, which was followed a jubilant celebration by the players and several team photos by posterity-minded parents, anxious to let the biggest moment in recent Sailor baseball history not go unrecorded. “He’s got tape everywhere; ice everywhere. I don’t know what’s [still] working on that guy, but it doesn’t matter. He just battles. Blake is our leader. He did exactly what you would expect out of him in that situation. It has just been a blast, an absolute pleasure to coach him and be around him this year.”
Davey, who also called pitches for just the third or fourth time this season, he said, may have been the most obvious, but he was hardly the lone hero for the hosts.
Princeton-bound senior pitcher Ryan Albert retired all five batters he faced after coming in with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth. Albert overpowered the first two Mustangs hitters, striking them out to end the threat. He then worked a perfect seventh to set the stage for the winning rally.
Guerin, a junior left fielder, singled twice, was hit by a pitch, and drove in the Sailors’ fortuitous first run with a one-out come-backer in the third inning.
Senior second baseman Jacob McCann singled, walked and senior center fielder Alex Maddox doubled and scored the Tars’ first run.
Maddox’s double, in the left-center gap, appeared high enough for an outfielder to easily run under. But the two Roosevelt fielders, looked at each other, allowing it to drop and bounce over the fence.
McCann advanced to third on a Dillan Freiberg flyout and came home when Roosevelt pitcher Garret Overeem snagged Guerin’s come-backer and threw to first, allowing Maddox to score without so much as a glance.
“We’ll take it,” Murphy, a first-year coach, said of the gift run.
With senior starting pitcher Jack Grace settling down after back-to-back doubles in the second put Roosevelt (12-13-1) on top, Davey singled in Freiberg to give Newport a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Freiberg was hit by a pitch with two outs and went to second on Guerin’s single.
The visitors from Corona tied it in the sixth when a walk, single and sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third. A swinging bunt was fielded barehanded by a charging Grace, whose underhand shovel to Davey one-hopped the catcher, as the runner slid into him.
But Albert, summoned specifically for his strikeout ability, did his job to perfection to maintain the tie.
“Man, when that kid gets fired up, you don’t want to bat off him,” Davey said of Albert, who got the win to improve to 5-2. He also has four saves. “That was, without a doubt, the hardest I’ve ever seen him throw. He was just pumped up.”
Grace struck out six in 5 1/3 , after having fanned five in 33 1/3 innings coming in.
Junior shortstop Austin Wobrock singled and had three assists, while senior third baseman Richie Lowery had four assists and senior pinch-runner Logan Mowery stole a base.
Sophomore first baseman Matt Carpenter made a diving stab to potentially save a run for the Sailors.
Davey said the Sailors were not overwhelmed by the postseason atmosphere.
“The first thing we all said when we made the playoffs was ‘Who cares?’ ” Davey said. “Obviously, it’s a big deal, because we haven’t been in the playoffs for 20 years. But what does that mean? Just because you made it, it’s not time to throw in the towel. We didn’t win anything. All we did was make the playoffs. So we’re trying to keep pushing along and get as far as we can.”
CIF Division I playoffs Wild-card round Newport Harbor 3, Roosevelt 2 SCORE BY INNINGS
Overeem, Manzo (5) and Ma. Valenzuela; Grace, Albert (6) and Davey. W – Albert, 5-2. L – Manzo, 7-6. 2B – Rodriguez (R) 2, Valencia (R), Maddox (NH), Davey (NH).
CIF playoffs Roosevelt…2Newport…3