The Del Norte baseball team split its last two games of the regular season on Saturday in McKinleyville to end up in fourth place in the final Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 standings.
The Warriors started the day off well with a hard-fought 3-2 victory to give themselves a chance at a second-place finish, but McKinleyville got hot at the start of Game 2 and pulled away for a 10-0 victory.
Del Norte jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first game of the day after Harper knocked a one-out double and was driven home by a double by Sebastian Puente.
McKinleyville was able to answer back with a run in the second inning, with a pair of hits to tie the game at 1-1.
In the sixth inning, Luke Hardy led off with a double and came home on a single by Kaden Ritter to retake the lead at 2-1, but the Panthers tied the game back up in the bottom of the inning.
The Warriors were finally able to separate themselves from the Panthers in the seventh inning. Senior Jorge Landeros kicked off the inning with a triple, followed by an RBI single from Harper for a 3-2 lead.
With the lead, Hardy buckled down in the bottom of the seventh inning, getting a pair of Panthers to fly out before ending the game with a grounder to first base.
“In that game we played a really good defensive game,” Johnson said. “Luke threw strikes and we had a couple timely hits to score those runs. It was just an all around good game offensively and defensively.”
After taking the first game of the day, Del Norte needed another win in McKinleyville to secure a spot in the Humboldt-Del Norte Tournament this week, but the Panthers slammed the door early.
McKinleyville took advantage of an error, a single, a hit batter and two walks in its first five at bats to jump out to a 4-0 lead. The Panthers continued to roll in their next at bat, scoring five runs off of four base hits and three more free bases for a big 9-0 lead.
“We had some unfavorable calls, made a couple errors and they started hitting the ball after that,” Johnson said. “We just couldn’t get our bearing after that and we just kind of lost it.”
Del Norte struggled to find any answers to McKinleyville’s early run, finishing Game 2 with just one base hit. The Panthers were able to tack on an extra run in the fifth inning to bring the 10-run rule into effect.
Although the loss brings the regular season to an end, the Warriors are hoping that they will have another chance to play this season. Johnson said he will submit Del Norte for a chance to compete in the North Coast Section Tournament starting May 22. Brackets for the NCS tournament are scheduled to be released on Sunday.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com .