By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers are headed back to the Charles Lakin H-DNL Tournament championship game.
And they’ll get another shot at the Panthers in the process.
The defending tournament champions advanced to Friday’s decider with a 6-1 win over St. Bernard’s at the Arcata Ball Park on Thursday night, getting the better of their crosstown rivals for the second time in two matchups this year.
Kalebh Hill continued to impress on the mound with another strong outing, allowing just three hits and one walk in a complete game, while striking out four.
“We played well,” Eureka head coach Eric Giacone said. “Kalebh Hill threw well for us, and at the plate we were very disciplined against (St. Bernard’s pitcher Caleb) Ruiz. We were able to put up some good at-bats against him late.”
With the win, the Loggers improved to 15-6, and will now play McKinleyville on Friday night for the tournament championship.
A win for the Loggers would not only see them retain their tournament title, but would also see them close out the season series with the Big 5 champions 2-2.
The Panthers took two of three against the Loggers last week to secure their first outright conference championship in 23 years.
“I think it will be another close game,” Giacone said of Friday’s big showdown. “Probably decided by the team that gets the big hit.”
The pitching matchup will likely be a repeat of last Saturday’s showdown between McKinleyville’s Corbin Eichin and Eureka’s Brady Munson.
In Thursday’s win, Eureka scored twice in the top of the second inning to take control and never trailed after that.
The Loggers added three more runs in the fourth to pull away.
Parker Rodgers led off the inning with a single, before Keenan Morris was walked. They each then scored on back-to-back RBI singles by Drew Nylander and David Vagle.
Nylander then scored on a passed ball to make it 5-0.
At the plate, Isaac Gutierrez finished 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Zac Anderson rounded out a five-hit team performance.
For St. Bernard’s, Ruiz had a double and Bode Joyner and Lane Thrap each finished 1-for-3.
The Crusaders used four pitchers in preparation for next week’s NCS playoffs, where they are expected to contend for a Division-V championship.
Joyner, Nick Dugan and Logan Petrusha each pitched one inning in relief of Ruiz.
Friday’s championship game is set for 7 p.m. at the Arcata Ball Park.