Vince Roberts' pitching role for the Beyer High baseball team has been mainly in mop-up situations, throwing the final inning of games the Patriots have been comfortably ahead.
But Roberts found himself in a new position in Friday afternoon's key Modesto Metro Conference matchup against Davis. With the score tied in the sixth inning, he was given the ball.
"I was ready to go," said Roberts, who plays third base and is the team's cleanup hitter when he isn't on the mound. "I wanted to show what I could do in such a big game."
Roberts stifled the Spartans for the next four innings, then delivered the game-winning single in an 8-4 victory in nine innings at Davis High School.
With the first round of MMC play over, Beyer (11-7, 5-0) is alone atop the standings. Davis (13-3, 4-1) falls one game back and is alone in second place.
"What a clutch performance by (Roberts)," Beyer co-coach Steve Clark said. "He was strong all four innings, he kept us in the game."
And in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third, Roberts delivered a line-drive single to left field, scoring center fielder Josh Young, and sparking a four-run inning.
Early, it didn't look as though there was going to be extra innings.
Davis jumped on Patriots ace Kyle Barrett for three runs on four hits in the first two innings.
Spartans sophomore Jake Sisco, meanwhile, cruised through the Beyer lineup. He didn't allow a run until the fifth inning, when Barrett doubled to the left-center gap, went to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch.
"We were still feeling confident," Roberts said.
The Patriots took the lead in the sixth inning. Roberts and Dillon Usiak singled to open the inning, knocking out Sisco and bringing in Tim McCoy. Barrett's double down the left-field line evened the score, and Kyle Crawford's single gave Beyer a 4-3 lead.
Michael Creamer opened the Davis sixth by drawing a walk, bringing Roberts in from the bullpen. Creamer worked his way around the bases, scoring on Thomas Williams' single up the middle, but the Spartans left the bases loaded. They stranded 12 baserunners in the game.
Each team stranded a runner in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings. The Patriots broke through in the ninth.
"Beyer's got such an explosive lineup, 1 through 9," Davis coach Kevin Ruiz said. "And this was a big, emotional matchup. We might've started to fatigue a little bit."
With one out in the ninth, Young reached on an error and Blake Barber singled. The runners moved up on a wild pitch. And Roberts turned on a McCoy fastball for the game-winner. The Patriots added three more runs for the final margin.
"Both of us were undefeated (in league) going in, we knew it was big," Roberts said.
They played like it.
"We've had a bunch of classic games with Davis over the years," Clark said, "and this was another one."