April 17, 2012
Eckels, Davis beat Elk Grove 5-4 in baseball showdown to honor fallen coach

A year ago Tuesday, the town of Davis was devastated by the loss of one of its own.

Scott Heinig, a Davis High School and UC Davis pitcher and then coach, died from injuries suffered from a fall. He was 22. Heinig last season was the pitching coach for his alma mater Blue Devils and players had his jersey No. 20 stitched into the back of their caps. They also made sure his jersey No. 20 was in the dug out, home and away, to serve as motivation and a reminder.

Blue Devils ace Ben Eckels was especially close to Heinig. He admitted that Tuesday was an especially difficult day and starting assignment, his mind elsewhere, though Bee No. 4 Davis beating No. 3 Elk Grove 5-4 in a key Delta Valley Conference certainly helped sooth matters. Eckels struck out two with the bases loaded in the sixth inning to escape his most serious jam, his seventh and eighth punch outs of the day.

"It was a pretty tough day," Eckels said, holding onto jersey No. 20. "It was hard to focus. I had to do what I could, had to focus."

Coach Heinig, Eckels said, meant more to him than he could articulate.

"He helped tutor me, he was a mentor, we worked on baseball, would go to UCD games," Eckels said. "I woke up this morning and said I'd win it for him."

Eckels said he wasn't at his best, but considering the situation and opponent, he was plenty pleased.

"I thought how Ben got out of the sixth inning was huge," Davis coach Dan Ariola said. "It hasn't been easy on Ben losing Scott. He was a freind, a mentor - everything to Ben, a big loss. Scott would be proud of what Ben has done."

Eckels gave Davis a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a run-scoring double. Batterymate and team captain George Hatamiya had an RBI for a 3-2 Davis lead in the fourth and Chris Gnos had a two-run single for a 5-2 lead in the sixth.

Dom Nunez had an RBI triple in the Elk Grove third and fellow junior national recruit/prospect Rowdy Tellez tied it 2-2 with a base hit in the same inning. Hatamiya earned the save.

Davis plays host to Grant on Wednesday and face Pacers ace Cameron Avila-Leeper, he of the 17-strikeout gem earlier this season. Avila-Leeper fanned 13 against Franklin last week in a victory. Elk Grove finishes the week week with two league games against Monterey Trail and a showcase game Saturday against Monte Vista of Danville in the Banner Island Classic in Stockton.
- By Joe Davidson
Follow on Twitter: @sb_joedavidson, www.surewestsports.com and www.ESPN1320.net

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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