After coming back for a close 7-6 victory in Game 1 of a double header, the Del Norte baseball team ripped the cover off the ball with a 10-run first inning in Game 2, wrapping up a season sweep of Fortuna with a 15-8 win.
Although the Warriors put together an impressive comeback to win Game 1 after trailing by four runs, the highlight of the day for Del Norte came in the first inning of Game 2. The Warriors crushed the ball in the bottom of the first inning using three home runs to power a 10-run inning.
Del Norte had only had two home runs all season prior to the second game.
“It was crazy,” said Del Norte head coach Travis Johnson. “It seemed like they were seeing the ball really well. Their pitcher was throwing strikes, and we just took advantage of the ball coming across the plate I guess. I really can’t tell you what happened. They just came out with a really good attitude that we were going to hit the ball.”
After Jorge Landeros led off the inning with a single, Cole Harper hit his first home run of the inning for a quick 2-0 lead.
After Ryan Janeiro was hit by a pitch, Sebastian Puente and OJ Calleja hit singles.
Sebastian Fabricus and Landeros followed that up with doubles before Harper came back up for his second home run of the inning. Janeiro then made it back-to-back home runs with a round tripper of his own and a 10-0 lead.
Along with the big lead, Del Norte’s first at bat in Game 2 gave the Warriors all of the momentum.
“I don’t think I have ever been a part of that many hits and that many runs in an inning,” Johnson said. “It was just very exciting for the kids, and for the coaches.”
The Huskies started to get back on track with three runs in the top of the third, but Del Norte answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. The Huskies continued to close the gap with two runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth inning. Del Norte once again responded with a run in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth inning to keep Fortuna at arm’s length.
“Our pitchers kind of struggled to throw strikes in the beginning,” Johnson said. “We gave them a run here and there, but we kept answering. Every time we would give them a little bit, we would take a little back the next inning. So we were able to keep a good lead.”
The Warriors finished game two with a total of 17 hits, including a perfect 4-for-4 performance from Landeros. Harper finished 3-for-4 with 7 RBI.
In the first game of the day, it was Fortuna that got off to a strong start with four runs in the top of the second inning to take a 4-0 lead.
After a slow start at the plate, Del Norte started to get on track in the third inning. Brandon Shanle led off with a single, followed by an RBI double by Fabricius. Harper brought Fabricius in with a stand up triple and Janeiro brought Harper home with a single in the next at bat to tie the score at 4-4.
Shanle, Fabricius and Harper all reached base safely again in the fourth inning, and all came around to score to push Del Norte ahead 7-4.
“They came out fast and hard and kind of caught us on our heels a little bit,” Johnson said. “We got thrown the storm, and I think we were able to adjust a little, both pitching and defensively. It also really helped having our bats come alive to score some runs. That was a nice confidence builder for us.”
Johnson thought Del Norte did a particularly good job of scoring base runners when the opportunity presented itself.
“We had some good at bats with some people in scoring position and got them in,” Johnson said. “We didn’t leave as many guys on base as we have in the past. With two strikes on them they were putting the ball in play and making something happen, which is very important.”
Harper lead Del Norte offensively in the first game of the day, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Janeiro and Puente also recorded two hits each for the Warriors.
With the wins, Del Norte improves to 12-9 overall this season with a 4-5 record in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 play to move into a tie for third with Arcata.
“Its huge for us. We had a goal to at least win the last two series — to take two out of three. So getting three wins is a huge plus for us,” Johnson said. “Now we have to get busy and focus on McKinleyville on Wednesday and Saturday and hopefully do the same thing.”
Eureka has already secured first place in the league this season, sitting at 10-2 with a bye week to end the season, but Del Norte can still finish as high as second place.
McKinleyville was 4-4 on Monday prior to its scheduled make up game against Fortuna.
Del Norte will wrap up the regular season with a three-game series against McKinleyville, starting with a single game Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Crescent City. The series will wrap up Saturday with a doubleheader in McKinleyville.
“We need to hit the ball like we did and throw strikes,” Johnson said. “If we play like we did today then we are in control of our own destiny. If we don’t play our ball then we are leaving it in the hands of the umpires and the other teams and we are in trouble.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .