By Ray Hamill — Mason Nichols hit a grand slam in his first appearance of the summer, as the Northern Humboldt Giants swept both ends of a 17U baseball doubleheader against the Tehama Bulls at the Arcata Little League Fields on Saturday.
Nichols’ bases-clearing blast helped secure a 6-2 win in the opener, and the Giants followed that with an 11-1 win in the nightcap.
The Northern Humboldt Knights, a 15U team, also fared well on Sunday, splitting a close doubleheader with the 17U Bulls.
The weekend games were the first in the area since March 11 because of COVID-19, and naturally after such a long layoff the performances were mixed.
“I thought the kids were a little bit sluggish today,” Giants head coach Troy Ghisetti said on Saturday. “They swung the bats pretty well at times. We’re just not in game form, or where we need to be.”
Despite the long layoff and with just two weeks of practice under their belts, it certainly wasn’t all bad.
“Defensively I thought we played pretty well,” Ghisetti said. “The pitchers were a little rusty.”
Nichols and Jared Dixon both came out swinging, with each finishing 2-for-3 in the opener.
Will Mager added a double, while Vincent Agliolo, Kayden Lee, Logan Mayer and Finn McRae rounded out a nine-hit team performance.
The Giants added nine more hits in game two, led by Dixon, who capped a big day at the plate with a 3-for-3 performance, including a double.
Riley Bates added two hits in the 10-run win, while Ethan Thomas, Dean Willick, Agliolo and McRae each had a hit.
Joey Quen pitched two innings in relief for the win on the mound in the opener, as Ghisetti utilized four pitchers in game one.
McRae pitched three and a third innings for the win in game two.
Knights 8, Bulls 9
Knights 8, Bulls 7
The Knights opened their season with a pair of impressive performances against the older Bulls, who came in having played three games already.
The top of the lineup was particularly impressive, with the speedy Willie Bommelyn and Miles Oliver each leading the way at the plate.
Oliver had five hits over the two games, while Bommelyn had two in each game, including a double in the opener.
Chase Coleman also was instrumental in both games, finishing with three hits on the day, including a two-RBI game-winning single in the nightcap as the Knights rallied late.
For good measure, Coleman also got the win on the mound in game two with a strong shutdown inning in relief.
In the opener, Ray Rusgrove also had two hits, while Ty Ghisetti and seventh-grader Anthony Ebert each added a hit.
Cedar Cline pitched four solid innings to start game one, with Tyler Schlesiger and Miller Waterhouse pitching in relief.
Walks, however, were a problem for the Kinghts, with most of their players playing their first game of the year.
Brody Mattz added a double in game two.