Les Northcutt struck out the first three times he was at the plate in his Davis High baseball team's conference game against Johansen Tuesday afternoon.
But when the junior third baseman came to the plate in the eighth inning with the score tied, he made amends.
Northcutt lined a single up the middle, scoring pinch-runner Marcus Pavon from second base, and reliever Michael Creamer finished off the bottom of the inning as the Spartans held off the Vikings 4-3 at Johansen High School.
"I knew I wasn't having a good day," Northcutt said. "But I also knew I had to get out of my slump somehow."
He'd been watching Johansen pitcher Hayden Maurice for much of the inning, and noticed a lot of fastballs.
"I was looking for the fastball," Northcutt said. "And as soon as I hit it, I knew it was good."
The Spartans (5-4, 2-0 MMC) are now tied atop the Modesto Metro Conference standings with Enochs (6-3, 2-0). Johansen (3-6, 0-2) has lost to both first-place teams.
"It seems like every game we win is a one-run game," Davis coach Kevin Ruiz said. "The pitching's been consistent. We're still looking to get our bats going."
Johansen had its moments as well. After falling behind twice, it rallied to tie the score each time.
"I like that we battled, we kept coming back," Johansen coach Jim Davis said. "Our starting pitcher, Aaron Godinez, he's keeping us in games.
"But he's also got some hard luck. We've lost four in a row with him out there and he's got an ERA of under 2."
After Northcutt's hit, Creamer retired the side for the victory. He came in the seventh, after the Spartans had given up the lead.
"Michael comes in and gets a first-pitch out, then a second-pitch out and retires the side," Ruiz said. "That was a big moment.
"Then in the next inning, Les gets his hit and we're in good shape."
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.