Just 16 day earlier, the Del Norte High baseball team cruised to an easy victory against Illinois Valley in Cave Junction. In Crescent City on Thursday, the Warriors saw a much better Cougar team, but they were able to pull out a 12-5 victory to remain undefeated at 4-0.

Illinois Valley struggled at the plate in the first meeting between the teams, but since that game the Cougars had scored 9, 13 and 17 runs in three straight comfortable wins.

"The kids over there have improved a lot since we played them last," said Del Norte head coach Travis Johnson. "They have won three games in a row. I give credit to the kids for coming out and not being flat."

Illinois Valley showed off its newfound offensive prowess in the top of the first inning, taking a 1-0 with a pair of singles and a Del Norte error.

The Warriors were able to answer immediately by taking advantage of Illinois Valley mistakes on defense. Austin Healy reached base and got to second on an overthrow, stole third base and then took home on a wild pitch.

Del Norte took a 3-1 lead as Jonathan Calderon and Chris Bray both reached home plate on wild pitches in the second inning.

"We were aggressive on the basepaths," Johnson said. "We were able to force the action and make them make a play. That is what we do."

The Warriors blew the game open in the fourth inning with five runs to take an 11-3 lead.

Dylan Pease was consistent on the moundpitching six innings, and giving up 10 hits. He also struck out five hitters and didn't walk a single batter. Just three of the five runs scored against Pease were earned.

"The pitching was great," Johnson said. "He threw strikes all game. If it wasn't for his arm being tired, I would have left him in for the whole game."

On in relief, Calderon retired the only three batters in the seventh inning to close out the win for the Warriors.

Del Norte only had eight base-hits in the game, but the Warriors were able to reach base at least twice in every inning thanks to multiple Illinois Valley fielding errors and six hit batters.

Del Norte will be back in action Wednesday when it travels to Fortuna for the Warriors' Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League opener.

Del Norte has its sights set high in the conference this year.

"I think we are going to be right there," Johnson said. "The league is wide open. I think all the teams are right there. One or two games is going to separate the top from the bottom."

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.