By Ray Hamill — Eureka senior Kalebh Hill came up with the big hit at the Arcata Ball Park on Thursday afternoon, leading the Loggers to a key Big 5 win over Arcata.
Hill hit a two-out, two-RBI single to break open a scoreless game in the top of the fifth inning, as the Eureka boys won 3-0.
The win was the eighth straight for Eureka, which remains unbeaten in league play at 7-0, and more importantly it keeps the Loggers in the thick of the chase for the Big 5 title.
“I think it came down to a big hit,” said interim Eureka head coach Eric Giacone, who took over this week for Jackie Christensen who was fired on Saturday. “We had a couple of chances early, and they had a couple of chances early, and neither of us could score, and finally we got our chance in the fifth and Kalebh Hill got the big hit.”
The game was, as expected, a pitchers’ duel between two of the top players on the North Coast, Arcata’s Merick Sears and Eureka’s David Vagle.
Vagle got the win, allowing just three hits all day.
“I thought Vagle made his pitches when he needed,” Arcata head coach Troy Ghisetti said. “He threw a very nice game against us.”
Defensive miscues cost the Tigers in the top of the fifth, putting two runners on with two outs.
Eureka senior Isaak Gutierrez then walked to load the bases, before Hill singled to left field to score Keenan Morris and Vagle.
Freshman Jackson Giacone then singled to score Ethan Pesch who was pinch running for Gutierrez.
That was all the scoring for the game, and all Vagle would need.
“Merick was very good on the mound, and David was very good on the mound,” Eric Giacone said. “They’re both competitors.”
Sears, who has been outstanding all season for the Tigers, allowed just one more batter on base after the breakthrough, while retiring the final six Eureka batters in order.
Sears gave up five hits in a complete game.
For Eureka, Hill and Jackson Giacone each finished with a pair of hits, and each had a double, while teammate Zac Anderson was 1-for-3 with a double.
For Arcata, catcher Alex Gorge had a one-out double in the fifth, but was left stranded, while Sears and Mason Trapkus each also had a hit.
“I thought we played a little tight,” Ghisetti said of his offense. “We need to relax and let the bats fly.”
The loss was just the third on the season for the Tigers, who dropped to 7-3 in the Big 5 and 18-3 overall.
The two teams will play another key doubleheader at Eureka on Saturday at 11 a.m., before the Loggers()11-3 overall) play a three-game series against McKinleyville (8-1 in league and 17-1 overall) next week.