By Ray Hamill — The season may be over and done with for the past month, but the accolades continue to pile up for several local high school baseball players.
This week, six H-DNL stars were named to the MaxPreps small schools all-state team, after what was a huge season for all of them.
Including a pair of McKinleyville players who were instrumental in leading the Panthers to a first outright league title in more than two decades, the pitcher and catcher combo of Cameron Saso and Dustin Ireland.
The honor comes just weeks after they were named the Big 5’s most valuable pitcher and player.
Joining them on the all-state first team of 30 players is St. Bernard’s senior pitcher Caleb Ruiz.
Ireland hit .468 on the year with 30 RBIs, while Saso, who was an all-around threat, posted an ERA of 1.17 and struck out 75 in 59.2 innings, while also batting .400.
Ruiz, who joins Saso as one of 10 pitchers on the all-state team, was another all-around threat.
The SB graduate who will play at College of the Redwoods next season, had a remarkable 127 strikeouts in 62 innings, with an ERA of 0.90, while also hitting .358 with 25 RBIs, a pair of home runs and three triples.
Ruiz was the Little 4’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
Joining the trio on the all-state squads are three more H-DNL players who were named to the second team, Arcata’s Merek Sears and Jaden Gorge, as well as South Fork’s C.J. Van Meter.
Sears made the grade as a pitcher, Gorge as an infielder and Van Meter as an outfielder.
Van Meter had a huge all-around season for the Cubs, hitting .423 with 21 RBIs, seven doubles and a pair of home runs, while also posting a ridiculous ERA of 0.11 with 80 strikeouts in 62 innings.
Gorge was Arcata’s best all-around player, playing a pivotal role at shortstop, at the plate, and on the mound, while Sears was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the Big 5, capping a tremendous season with a top-notch showing in the NCS Division-IV championship game.
All six players are currently playing for the Humboldt Eagles 19U all-star team, which announced on Tuesday that they will play the Humboldt Crabs on July 16.