The Del Norte baseball team had a lead on Eureka in both games on Friday, but couldn’t hold on for its first league win. The Loggers managed to pull out a pair of come from behind victories during the doubleheader in Crescent City, to complete the series sweep of the Warriors and remain undefeated in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 play.
The Warriors held a 1-0 lead heading into the fourth inning of game one before the Eureka offense caught fire, pulling away down the stretch for a 14-2 victory. Del Norte held a 3-0 lead going into the sixth inning in game two but once again the Loggers managed to battle back with a four-run sixth inning, and held on for the 4-3 victory.
Senior Sebastian Puente threw a strong second game for Del Norte, going all seven innings while giving up six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Only two of the runs scored by Eureka were earned.
“We just let them have one inning where they scored their runs,” Del Norte head coach Travis Johnson said about the second game on Friday. “It wasn’t that we played badly, they just hit the ball where we weren’t. They hit a couple down the line and scored, and I think that was the difference in the game.
“Bass (Puente) threw one heck of a game. The defense was pretty solid — we made a couple blunders, but I think we made up for it by turning a couple double plays, and just making some good plays. I thought the kids played one heck of a game in that second game, we just came up short.”
AJ Schultz gave Del Norte a quick lead in the bottom of the first inning of game two when he drew a lead off walk, and advanced all the way to third base on a pick off attempt that got past the first baseman. Schultz then came home on a ground ball hit by Giovanni Gonzalez for a 1-0 Del Norte lead.
The Warriors made it 2-0 in the fourth inning when Kaden Ritter led off with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Puente. With two outs and runners on first and second freshman Jared Dixon smacked a single into the outfield to bring Ritter in to score.
Schultz scored again in the fifth inning after leading off with a double, followed by an RBI single by Gonzalez for a 3-0 Warrior lead.
The Loggers were finally able to get back on track in the top of the sixth inning. After the lead off batter flew out to open the inning, the Loggers cut into Del Norte’s lead with a single by Brady Munson, followed by an RBI double by David Vagle to make the score 3-1.
Eureka pulled within a run on an error by Del Norte with two outs in the inning. Eureka’s Nate Fowler then completed the comeback with a two-RBI single to push the Loggers in front 4-3.
Del Norte had a chance to tie the game up in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Schultz smacked a one-out single to get the Warriors going and advanced to second base on a ground out for the second out. Ritter got underneath the ball and popped it up in the infield, but it managed to find an open patch of grass and fell in for a single.
“I saw the first basemen running and his eyes got really big, so I knew he wasn’t going to get to it. So I sent him,” said Johnson, who is also the third base coach for the Warriors.
Schultz rounded third and sprinted towards home, diving head-first towards the plate. But the throw to the plate was on target, and Eureka catcher Parker Rodgers was able to make the tag just in time for the final out, preserving the 4-3 lead for the Loggers.
“It was close. I think I made the right call, but if I had it back again I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I was just trying to push the issue and get try to get that tying run in.”
In the first game on Friday the Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Forkner beat out a throw to first base for an infield single to lead off the inning. Forkner advanced from first to third after an overthrow on a pick-off attempt by Eureka, and managed to come in to score following a passed ball.
Del Norte held on to its lead until the fourth inning when Eureka’s offense finally exploded.
The Loggers scored seven runs apiece in both the fourth and fifth innings, going all the way through the order in each inning, to break the game open.
Offensively, Del Norte managed to get a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning, but couldn’t muster enough offense to mount a comeback, and the game ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
“Some of the kids still hit the ball hard, but it was right at somebody,” Johnson said. “Eventually if you keep hitting it hard it is going to find some holes, and I think it did in the second game.”
After taking a tough loss in the first game of the day, Johnson was proud of the way the Warriors responded in game two.
“I think that they showed that they do have some heart on the team,” Johnson said. “Bouncing back from that big loss in the first game, and coming back and playing the way that we did in the second game shows that we have some heart on the team.”
After the doubleheader Del Norte drops to 0-9 in Big 5 games this season while Eureka improved to 6-0.
The Warriors will have about a week and a half off before taking on Fortuna in what will likely be the final three games of the season for both teams.
“We are just going to try to keep improving on this last game and get ready for Fortuna,” Johnson said. “Fortuna is having a rough go this year, kind of like we are, so hopefully we can come out and be the better team for that three-game stretch.”
Fortuna is currently 0-7 in Big 5 play this season. The Huskies are scheduled to play a doubleheader at McKinleyville today.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .