By Ray Hamill … An abundance of homegrown baseball talent was on display once again this summer, with several local teams leaving their mark.
From the trio of local Little League teams that advanced to NorCal tourneys, to the local American Legion contingent, to the Humboldt Crabs and B52s, it was another epic season at the local ballparks, with plenty of talking points, some thrilling contests, and, most notably, a lot of success.
In fact, just about all of the local teams had impressive winning campaigns.
At the top of the list, as always, were the Crabs, as iconic a team as any in the area and one that has been now playing for 74 consecutive summers, longer than any summer collegiate team in the entire nation.
And they’ve quite probably been posting winning records for that long.
The tradition is one of most cherished here on the North Coast, and for many of us, the summer doesn’t get going until we’ve taken a trip to the Arcata Ball Park to take in a game.
This season, the Crabs were as successful as always and more entertaining than usual.
In the opening half of the season, they had already been involved in five walk-offs, winning four of them, as well as claiming a 20-inning win on the road, and another 25-0 victory at home.
Not to mention a couple of inside-the-park home runs.
They were entertaining, that’s for certain, and when you get right down to it that’s what the fans want more than anything (except maybe beer).
And, as always, the roster featured an abundance of talent.
McCarthy Tatum was the team MVP, while Fortuna native and College of the Redwoods standout Kokko Figueiredo enjoyed an impressive debut season with the team.
Figueiredo, who will play next year at Cal State Monterey Bay, batted .360 with 16 doubles and 37 RBIs.
He was joined on the team this summer by two other local players, including Dylan Campbell of McKinleyville, who went 3-0 in five starts and made 10 appearances for the team.
Arcata’s Wyatt Tucker, who had a big 2017 with the Crabs, re-joined the team late in the summer to provide some relief on the mound.
The Crabs finished the season 37-10.
B52s enjoy stellar summer
Across the bay, meanwhile, the B52s enjoyed another successful summer, and continue to establish themselves as a quality summer collegiate club.
The roster is made up of mostly of local players, either in the early stages of their college careers or veterans still eager to play and out there to help develop the youngsters.
It’s a combination that appears to work.
Team owner Jeff Giacomini, a Crabs hall of famer, has done an outstanding job with the club since taking over five years ago, renovating Bomber Field and building a local tradition that continues to grow each summer.
This season, the B52s had several local standouts, including two who led the way at the plate and epitomized what the B52s are all about, one an older player, the other just embarking on his collegiate career.
Veteran Spencer Duggan batted .375 with 22 RBIs, while Eureka High grad Ethan Fischel was next best at .370.
Jacob Smith, Daniel Teasley, Craig Broadman and Aidan Morris each also had memorable seasons.
The B52s finished the summer 29-12, another hugely successful campaign, closing out with a 15-3 run, including an 11-4 win over the Crabs at the Arcata Ball Park.
Historic year for local legion teams
The Humboldt Eagles 19U roster was a who’s who of local all-stars, featuring the best players from seven different high schools.
The season ultimately ended in disappointment when the Eagles dropped back-to-back games in less than 24 hours at the NorCal Tournament in Chico, but was a memorable one nonetheless.
The Eagles were loaded with talent and came together as the season wore on, earning the top seed in NorCal for the first time.
The Humboldt Eagles 17U, on the other hand, had perhaps the most impressive season of all local teams, finishing second in the state for the second straight year.
A memorable campaign came to an end in an 8-0 loss against Pacifica in Yountville, giving the Eagles a 3-2 record at the state tournament.
“It was a hell of a finish,” head coach Matt Tomlin said. “And we only had three 17-year-olds on the team, so we’re a very young team to make it that far.”
Brady Munson capped a standout summer with another memorable performance at the state tournament, pitching a complete game 4-2 win over Napa and adding seven hits over the five games.
The Northern Humboldt Giants, meanwhile, were the Eagles’ biggest rivals on the North Coast this summer, playing them close in all eight matchups, including a pair of wins at the district tournament on their way to the championship.