By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
It certainly was a memorable season-opening game for the Del Norte Grizzlies to say the least.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Del Norte made a tenacious and determined five run comeback to win the game 7-6 on Saturday against the Southern Humboldt Sixers in American Legion baseball action.
And then there was that bench-clearing tussle in the top of the seventh inning.
It occurred when Jake Hamilton became upset with Del Norte pitcher Zach Hegelmeyer, after he hit him with a pitch. Hamilton angrily charged the mound, with the Sixers bench running onto the field, followed by the Del Norte bench.
The ensuing ruckus included harsh words exchanged and a number of participants wrestling one another, with pushing and shoving occurring.
"It was surreal," Grizzlies head coach Eric Enos said. "It was the first time I've ever seen this."
A second game scheduled for Saturday was canceled because the rain that had been going on during the first game was falling more steadily.
Sunday's games proved to be much more docile, with Del Norte losing both games, 6-5 in eight innings in game one, and 11-6 in game two to the undefeated Eureka Falcons.
Enos said the team showed tremendous effort and heart and played tough, which he said is encouraging for the upcoming season.
Bench clearing incident
On Saturday, at Del Norte High School, the Grizzlies found themselves looking up at a 6-2 deficit in the top of the seventh inning
Hegelmeyer entered the game, replacing starting pitcher Justin Yslas, and was able to get one out on a groundout, before giving up a single.
The next batter up was Hamilton. He was hit by a pitch, but was not awarded first base because it was ruled there was not an attempt to try to move away from the pitch. Enos said he believes Hamilton was purposely trying to get hit so he could get on base.
On the next pitch, Hamilton was struck again. He did not take the hit well.
He threw his bat 10 to 15 feet forward and started to come towards the pitching mound.
When Hamilton started to run towards Hegelmeyer, Del Norte first baseman Andy Evanow came to his pitchers defense, and the bench from the Sixers came out, followed by the bench for the Grizzlies. After the ruckus cleared, Del Norte seemed to gain motivation. When play resumed, third baseman Andrew Getman made a nifty double play to end the top of the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the bats of Del Norte came alive, and came up with five runs for the win.
Enos said he was extremely proud of his team using a negative situation and turning it into a positive and coming together and winning.
"We're extremely happy with the win," he said. "They just showed a lot of heart."
Enos said he has heard there will be suspensions, but said it appears Hegelmeyer will not be suspended, although Evanow may be suspended for a game. Enos said it appears Hamilton and Sixers head coach Chris Geiser, who had to be forcibly restained, will be suspended, probably for more than one game. Hegelmeyer, Hamilton and Geiser were ejected from the game.
Enos commended Sixers pitchers Ross Sutten, who held the Grizzlies hitless through four innings.
On Sunday, in the first game, the Grizzlies were down 5-2 and were able to score three runs in the sixth to tie the score at 5-5. The game went into extra innings, where the Falcons were able to score in a run and gain the 6-5 victory.
In the second game, the Flacons were able to gain the 11-6 win.
Enos said his team played hard, but the problem in the second game was a lack of pitching depth, with several players with little pitching experience having to take the mound.
Considering their lack of pitching experience, they performed well and he expects them to continue to get better as the season goes on. He added that Trevor Trujillo, who played for the Grizzlies last year and for Del Norte High and is a 2006 graduate with pitching experience, joined the team Monday. Enos hopes this will help with pitching depth. Del Norte next plays on Sunday at home.
in doubleheader action at home against Northern Humboldt.