Before the season began in March, Bruce Jacobsen said he had no expectations that the Douglas High baseball team would live on its ability to hit home runs. The coach did add, however, his belief that the Tigers would have long ball potential at different spots in the lineup.
Kaleb Foster and Kyle Johnson showed off that power potential Tuesday afternoon when they combined to hit three home runs for Douglas in its 10-3 Northern Division I victory against Damonte Ranch at Tiger Field.
Foster blasted two home runs, including a fifth-inning grand slam, and Johnson had a two-run blast in the second inning to spark a 13-hit attack for Douglas (15-4 overall, 9-1 league).
Johnson staked himself to a 2-0 lead with that second inning home run and the senior right-hander went on to pitch a complete game nine-hitter with 10 strikeouts to earn the win.
“That was a huge win,” Johnson said. “Damonte is a good team. To get the lead definitely helped. If we get up a run or two, I’m ready to go.”
Foster hit a solo home run in the third inning and followed that with his game-breaking grand-slam to make it 7-0 in the fifth. Michael Mejia added a pair of doubles, including a drive in the fourth inning that one-hopped the fence at the 400-foot sign in straightaway center field.
Matt Santos also contributed a double to the Tigers’ game-breaking sixth-run fifth inning rally.
“We’ve had some offensive struggles the last few weeks, but the kids have been working hard in practice and it looks like their work is paying off,” Jacobsen said. “We had a lot of real good performances up and down the lineup today.”
Johnson and Damonte Ranch starter Billy Damon appeared to be on the verge of a pitching duel in the second inning when Matt Santos singled and Johnson came up to hit with two outs. Damon had been in the strike zone on nine straight pitches — including a called strike on his first pitch to Johnson.
“It was a curveball,” Johnson said of the first pitch. “I just knew he was going to come back with another one. I just waited, I saw it come out of his hand and I hit it. I felt it — I knew I had made solid contact — and I just took off out of the box hard.”
There was no need, as it turned out, because Johnson’s drive cleared the left field fence.
“Billy Damon is one of the best pitchers in the league, so to get a two-spot there was really big,” Jacobsen said of the home run.
Foster hit the first pitch he saw in the third inning over the right field fence to make it 3-0.
Dusten Plante and Cale Kynett singled to open the fifth and Dalton Grisell got aboard on a bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. After a ground ball force out at home, Foster blasted a one-strike pitch over the right-center field fence for his grand slam. Santos and Mejia hit back-to-back doubles down the left field line and Cole Peck followed with an RBI single as the Tigers stretched their lead to 9-0.
Damonte Ranch (14-6, 5-5) answered with one run in the sixth and scored two more runs in the seventh before Johnson fielded a comebacker for the final out with the bases loaded.
“I love those pressure situations,” Johnson said after working out the seventh inning jam. “I love the challenge of having the weight on my shoulders.”