An easy victory nearly turned into a disastrous defeat for Davis High, but Tim McCoy's wise decisions on the bases and mound bailed out the Spartans.
"We were cruising along pretty good, then we lost our focus," the right-hander said Wednesday, explaining how Davis lost most of a four-run lead in the fifth and a two-run lead in the seventh. "We're chasing Beyer, so we really needed this one."
McCoy made sure they got it.
After scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth, he struck out the final batter -- with the potential tying run on third -- to secure a 6-5 win over Johansen.
Davis (14-3, 5-1 Modesto Metro Conference) trails Beyer (12-6, 6-0), having lost to the Patriots 8-4 last week. The teams play twice in the last week of the season.
The Spartans appeared on the way to an easy win, up 4-0 with ace Jake Cisco throwing. Cisco, 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA going into the game, lost his control in the fifth and Johansen made it 4-3.
Davis pushed its lead to 5-3 in the seventh, but Johansen (7-11, 3-3) rallied for two in the bottom of the inning, making it 5-5 on P.J. Watzke's single to left field.
In the top of the eighth, McCoy drew a one-out walk. When Gabe Crudo followed with a liner into right-center, McCoy never hesitated and kept running to third.
His play drew a throw to third, but it was off the mark. Crudo was caught between first and second on the play, but Johansen threw the ball into right field, allowing McCoy to score.
The Vikings put a runner on third with two out in the bottom of the eighth before McCoy fired a fastball past Julien Castenada on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
"I started with a curve, then it was fastballs," McCoy said, explaining how he got ahead of Castenada 1-2. "I threw against him earlier this year, so I felt I could overpower with my fastball."
McCoy (5-1) threw 2º innings in a rare relief stint. He was expected to start Friday against Johansen but is now questionable after throwing 44 pitches. Pitching coach Justin Schwitters said McCoy might pitch, or it could be Ryan Stice (2-1, 2.28 ERA) or Michael Creamer (1-1, 1.37 ERA).
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.