The Del Norte High baseball team employs a pair of colorful visual metaphors to demonstrate the power of momentum.
Offensively, hitting begets hitting begets more hitting — picture a big white snowball rolling down a hill, picking up mass as it goes. Conversely, pitching and defensive errors metastasize in similar fashion — a big yellow snowball rolling down a hill.
McKinleyville High swept the Warriors, 8-2 and 7-2, in a Saturday doubleheader at Del Norte High School. The weather report: Sunny, clear skies, gusts of wind and a blizzard of yellow snow.
“I’m just kind of in shock right now,” Del Norte head coach Travis Johnson said. “Mentally, we did not show up.”
The Warriors (5-7 overall, 1-2 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League) committed nine errors combined against the Panthers (7-7, 3-2 HDN League) and made mistakes along the basepaths that exacerbated matters.
Del Norte took an early 1-0 lead in the first game when sophomore Steven Maready laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to bring senior Ryan Gomes home in the third inning.
In the fourth, Gomes dropped a ball hit by McKinleyville’s McLean Johnson to him in right field with a runner on. That runner scored, and Johnson advanced to third base on the error. The Panthers scored Johnson and Parker Farris to take a 3-1 lead.
Maready helped out Del Norte starting pitcher Jonathan Calderon in the fifth inning with a high-hopping infield single that scored Calderon and cut the Warriors’ deficit in half.
One McKinleyville run had come across the plate in the top of the seventh inning when Nathan Porter overthrew first base on a double-play that would have ended the inning. The Panthers touched up Calderon for three straight hits — including an RBI triple by Sam Schmidt and an RBI double by Johnson — to put five runs on the board.
“One run’s easy,” Johnson said. “You can manufacture it. But by that time, it was 8-2.”
And the Warriors could not manufacture a comeback. Junior Dylan Pease led off the bottom of the seventh with a single but was doubled up by McKinleyville on a flyout by Calderon. Gomes followed Calderon with a single but was thrown out attempting to extend his base hit into a double.
Calderon threw a complete-game nine-hitter, striking out four, in the loss. Farris scattered seven Del Norte hits for the win.
Schmidt started McKinleyville off in the second game with an RBI double off Maready, plating Coleton Golden-Tudor. He then scored on a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 2-0 advantage.
McKinleyville scored another run in the second and two runs in the third as Del Norte committed three errors in those two innings.
“The second game, we had no easy inning,” Johnson said. “We made it tough on ourselves every inning.”
Porter reached on an error in the fourth inning and came around to score on an RBI single by junior Aaron Fitch. Senior Juan Chavez singled Fitch home three batters later.
That was all Del Norte would get, as McKinleyville scored in the fifth and sixth innings. The Warriors committed three errors in the sixth inning alone, including two on the same play by Maready.
Golden-Tudor scattered eight hits in seven innings for a complete-game victory, throwing just 60 pitches in the process.
“We weren’t making other pitchers work,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to make them earn their strikes.”
Del Norte travels to Eureka on Wednesday to face the Loggers. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.