By Ray Hamill — Humboldt County baseball appears to be in a pretty healthy state.
On Tuesday night, the best young local talent in the county gave the Humboldt Crabs everything they could handle in a showdown at the Arcata Ball Park, eventually falling 5-0 to the top-class collegiate talent.
The Eagles, a 19U American Legion team, were competitive throughout, with some stellar pitching and defense keeping them in the game.
They had their chances, getting runners on base in each of the opening seven innings, and leaving the bases loaded in the sixth.
On the mound, they utilized a platoon of seven arms, giving as many players as possible the opportunity to play on such a big occasion while saving all of them for a big weekend at the American Legion NorCal tournament.
Collectively, they gave up 12 hits, which wasn’t a bad return against some top D-I college players, and displayed plenty of command in issuing just two walks.
At the plate, Cameron Saso set the early tone and settled his team into the game with a big double in the top of the first.
The McKinleyville star, who was a junior in high school this past spring, looked the most comfortable player in the game early on, also coming up with a leaping grab at shortstop in the bottom of the first.
Garrison Finck got the start on the mound for the Eagles, pitching two scoreless innings to give his team plenty of confidence, and allowing just one hit.
Merek Sears kept the Eagles in the game in the third, allowing a couple of base hits but getting out of the jam as the Crabs left two runners in scoring position.
C.J. Van Meter was the most effective of the Eagles relief pitchers after that, holding the Crabs hitless in the fifth.
The breakthrough, however, came in the fourth, when Dawson Bacho scored on a wild pitch, and the Crabs made it 3-0 in the sixth when Bacho hit a two-run home run over the right center field fence.
Gannon Cyphers provided one of the offensive highlights for the Eagles with a fourth-inning double, while Hunter Davis, another high school junior this past spring, was 2-for-4.
Davis has become one of the top catchers in the county, both behind the plate and offensively.
On Tuesday night, his all-around talents were on display once again, when the St. Bernard’s star combined with Saso to catch Crabs baserunner Riley Cleary on a steal attempt early in the game.
Cody Emmons and Saso rounded out a five-hit team performance.
Damian Henderson was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles to lead the way for the Crabs, while Dom Souto, Kokko Figueiredo and Bacho each had two hits.
Tyler Condie pitched five and two-third innings for the win, with Dylan Campbell and Dylan Lamb each pitching well in relief.
Campbell, a Mack High graduate, faced fellow Panthers Saso and Dustin Ireland.
With the win, the Crabs improved to 22-13, while the Eagles are now 32-11.
Next up, the Crabs will host the Redding Ringtails at the Arcata ball Park on Wednesday night, while the Eagles will head to Woodland for the NorCal tournament, opening against Napa on Thursday.