Davis High right fielder Gabe Crudo had just seen Kevin Miller belt a based-loaded pitch over the fence — just right of the foul pole — so he took a few steps backward.
"That kid hit a shot, and I wanted to make sure I gave him plenty of room," Crudo said.
Good call. Two pitches later, Miller lined a ball that Crudo thought was going over the fence — but he raced to the fence anyway.
He made a diving catch, a moment before crashing into the fence, and quickly got the ball to the infield before any runner scored.
Crudo's play proved crucial, as the Spartans scored five runs in the top of the next inning on their way to a 12-4 win over Enochs in a battle between the Modesto Metro Conference's last unbeaten teams.
Enochs (8-4, 4-1) got within 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth on an error, and Miller came to the plate with one out. His first swing was early, resulting in the foul, but his second sent a rocket to right.
Rather than tag up, the runners bolted the moment Miller made contact. As Crudo hit the fence, the runner on third was at the plate — and had to scurry back to third. The next batter grounded out and Davis rejoiced in its dugout.
"That changed the momentum real fast," said Crudo, whose play helped put Davis (9-4, 5-0) in sole possession of first. "That's the best catch I have ever made, no doubt."
Davis rode the momentum into the fifth, where Jimmy Myers' two-run single — his second two-run single of the day — blew it open. Michael Creamer slammed a two-run homer to cap an 18-hit attack.
"Before the game, we talked about needing to be 5-0," Crudo said. "We wanted to be perfect after the first round."
Davis will play each of the five other MMC teams twice more this season, part of the 15-game conference schedule.
The Spartans, ranked No. 3 in Stanislaus District, prepared for the MMC by surviving one of the most difficult schedules in the area — and it included a 3-2 win over second-ranked Buhach Colony.
"We wanted to play teams that would challenge us and make us better," said Davis coach Kevin Ruiz, whose club reached the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs last season. "We upgraded our schedule, adding Buhach, Salinas, Lincoln and others. It has worked."
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.