By Ray Hamill — There was a rare sighting in Eureka on Tuesday afternoon — a game of baseball featuring the Loggers.
Playing just their fifth game in almost six weeks, the Eureka boys defeated the Crusaders 4-2 at St. Bernard’s.
The Eureka bats were outhit 7-3, but thanks to a strong pitching performance and a couple of St. Bernard’s miscues on defense, the Loggers were able to pull out the win against their crosstown rivals.
“We had 11 strikeouts and only three hits, so it was great to get a win but it didn’t come easy,” Eureka head coach Jackie Christensen said. “What we did do well was take what was given to us in terms of walks and hit batters, and we put some pressure on them with steals and bunts to scratch out the runs we needed.”
Brady Munson got the win on the mound, pitching 5.1 strong innings before tiring in the top of the sixth.
“I got to tip my hat to Eureka pitcher Brady Munson,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “He was really good today and kept us off balance.”
Munson scattered six hits and allowed just two earned runs, before Nate Fowler came in to relieve him in the sixth, tossing the final 1.2 innings for the save, allowing just one hit.
“We played solid defense and our pitchers did a great job and we did just enough to get the win,” Christensen said.
The Loggers, who were officially the home team, scored a pair of runs in each of the third and fourth innings.
The two runs in the fourth came on a wild play after a ball hit off the top of the bat by Isaak Gutierrez spun wildly at first base, where St. Bernard’s Cole Petrusha was unable to field it cleanly.
The play scored both Hayden Bode and Keenan Morris who had walked to lead off the inning.
The Crusaders rallied in the top of the sixth with two runs.
Lane Thrap led off with a single, before advancing to third on a Caleb Ruiz double. Both runners then scored on a Bode Joyner single to cut Eureka’s lead in half.
Fowler then came in and quickly shut the door with two straight outs.
‘A lot of heart’
Ayden Hamanaka gave the Crusaders hope in the top of the seventh with a lead-off single, but thanks to their defense the Loggers were able to hold on, with second baseman Keenan Morris making a good play for the final out of the game.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Tomlin said. “They showed a lot of heart to fight back.”
Munson helped his own cause with one of his team’s three hits and an RBI, while Gutierrez also had a hit and three RBIs.
In addition to his solid defense, Morris finished 1-for-2 with a stolen base and two of his team’s runs.
Freshman Nick Dugan started on the mound for the Crusaders and took the loss despite pitching very well.
Dugan has been sensational for the Crusaders in his first season playing varsity and was again on Tuesday, pitching 4.2 innings and holding the Loggers to just three hits.
The Crusaders pitched both Caleb Ruiz and Joyner in relief, with an eye on saving them for an important league doubleheader at Ferndale on Saturday.
“We have a one-game lead in league and we’ve got to save our one-two pitchers for (Saturday),” Tomlin said “But we’ve got a lot of confidence in Nick Dugan and I thought he played well. He was outstanding.”
Christensen echoed the sentiment.
“We were fortunate to walk away with a win today,” the Eureka coach said. “SB deserves a ton of credit. Their pitchers kept us off balance all game and we never really squared anything up.”
The Loggers improved to 5-3 and will host Fortuna in a Big 5 clash on Wednesday.
St. Bernard’s is now 12-4 and will play next at Ferndale on Saturday.