Enochs edges Beyer in MMC showdown

Brian Dix was a beast early this season for Enochs High, driving in runs, smacking homers and bouncing balls off the outfield wall.

Then he lost his stroke, going 3-for-18 with a double and two RBIs over six games, and Enochs' offense evaporated.

That slump coincided with Enochs facing a slew of quality pitchers, begging the question whether Dix had been feasting on mediocre hurlers.

The Eagles' cleanup hitter answered the question Thursday, hitting a homer off one of the region's best pitchers to lead his team past Beyer, 4-3.

"My feeling is that when we see a No. 1 (pitcher), we start thinking about facing a No. 1 instead of just hitting," Enochs coach Matt Brown said. "Brian and J.T. (Boles) hit home runs on their typical swings today."

The result, combined with losses elsewhere, gives Beyer (18-7, 10-3) the Modesto Metro Conference's top seed in the playoffs and leaves Enochs (14-11, 8-5) alone in second. Downey (14-11, 7-6) and Davis (13-8, 7-6) are close behind: Downey has two games against Beyer next week, while Enochs plays two games against Davis.

Beyer has the tiebreaker over Enochs. Enochs and Davis have the tiebreaker over Downey.

Dix, who has gone 13-for-22 with 10 RBIs and two homers after breaking his slump, knocked Kyle Crawford's first pitch of the second inning out of the park.

Winning pitcher Donnie Fairchilds drove in the second run of the inning with a single for a 2-1 lead. Boles made it 3-1 with a solo homer in the bottom of the third.

"J.T.'s at-bat is what I'm talking about when I say we need to stay focused," Brown said. "He swung at a curve in the dirt on the previous pitch, but he's right there ready to hit the next one."

Dix (six) and Boles (five) have combined for 11 homers: There's not another team in the MMC with more than 11 home runs.

Crawford, who didn't pitch the first half of the season because of an injury, had allowed only one earned run and no extra-base hits in three previous starts.

"Kyle got a couple pitches high and Enochs, which is a good hitting team, took advantage of it," Beyer coach Steve Clark said.

Fairchilds (6-2) allowed one run in the first five innings, but Beyer put two runners on with no outs in the sixth. Stephen Roy doubled in a run, but Fairchilds retired the next two batters to keep it at 4-2.

Beyer challenged again in the seventh: Connor Torres' double put runners on second and third with one out. A passed ball made it 4-3 and moved Torres to third.

Ty Gallloway took the mound and got Kaden Cline to hit a two-hopper back at him. Torres took off for the plate, and Galloway's throw gave catcher Mitch Kelly plenty of time to apply the tag. It proved to be a huge play, as No. 3 hitter Mason Ankeney followed with a single to center — a hit that would have made it 4-4.

"It was reaction play. (Torres) saw it and took off," Clark said.

Garrett Roberts then hit a soft fly to right field to end the game.

Though the homers garnered much of the attention after the game, it was Fairchilds' performance that keyed the victory. His ability to throw first-pitch strikes gave him the freedom to come back with his slider, which broke late against most hitters.

The victory gave Enochs some margin for error going into the last week of the regular season. The Eagles might need it, since Tuesday they'll likely get Davis ace Jake Sisco (9-2, 0.81 ERA).

"We began the season thinking we would make the playoffs," Fairchilds said. "Now we've got our chance to make it happen."