It's all still new to Chris Davis, this high school sports stuff.
He and his twin brother, Kevin, entered Haddonfield High last fall as highly touted athletes. Both were key subs on the storied basketball team, but then Chris broke his right thumb and suffered some ligament damage.
With his thumb fully healed, Chris had no trouble jumping right into baseball. Yesterday, the 5-10, 175-pound freshman belted his first career home run to help the Dawgs to a 10-7 Colonial Conference win over host Haddon Heights.
Trailing 2-0, Davis drilled a 1-0 pitch over the 358-foot sign in left-center with two on to give the Dawgs a 3-2 lead.
"After the first pitch, I was kind of sitting on a fastball, and I just hit it," Davis said. "It felt great. I didn't think it was going to get out. I just put my head down and started running as hard as I could, until I got around first and realized it was out."
It was sort of comical and refreshing at the same time. Refreshing in that you get the sense from watching Davis play that he would have put his head down and run as hard as he could no matter where the ball ended up. You know, sort of Chase Utley-like.
Haddonfield, which improved to 12-8, didn't have long to celebrate however, compliments of a comedy of defensive lapses in the bottom of the second. Although their play wasn't comedic to coach Bob Bickel.
"At the beginning, mentally we weren't in the game at all," Bickel said.
"We start the state tournament on Monday, and maybe they're looking forward to that. We told them that everything we're doing now is geared towards Monday, but our main goal is to play good, smart baseball. And we didn't do that early."
Heights (10-9) plated four in the bottom of the second for a 6-3 lead. With men on second and third and two outs, Haddonfield pitcher Luke Peyton walked Mike Ewanichak. For some reason, Heights' Josh Mogck broke toward home from third. He appeared to be a dead-duck, but Haddonfield catcher Tom Gargano held the ball. With the bases then loaded, Hunter Dempsey hit a ground ball to third that John Walter fielded cleanly, but was slow trying to get to third for the force, and another run scored.
That brought an angry Bickel from the dugout for a short shouting session at his team. After a two-run single by Pat D'Ascenzo gave the Garnets their final runs of the inning, the silence in the Haddonfield dugout told the story.
But the Dawgs chipped away and tied the game at 6 with two runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Gargano and a run-scoring double by Peyton. Heights took the lead again, 7-6, with a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Haddonfield sealed it with four in the top of the seventh, two of them coming on a bases-loaded double by Peyton.
"It was just good to be able to put the ball in play there," said Peyton, who will start on the mound in the first game of the tournament Monday against Gateway. "Their pitcher [freshman Don Landis] had a lot of movement on his pitches. I was able to get a hold of one and luckily get some runs in. It's always nice to beat Haddon Heights, since they're our rival."
The second season starts Monday. Bickel and his team are well aware of it. Most are aware of what it will take to advance, since six of the teams in Group 2 are from the Colonial Conference, and most have done this tournament thing before.
But it will be a whole new experience for Chris Davis. Just as this whole year has been.
"I didn't expect to play at the varsity level in any sport this year, really," he said. "I'm just trying to play hard and earn a spot on the field."