The Northern Humboldt Steelheads closed out the summer in dramatic fashion over the weekend, winning a wild championship game in baseball, 11-10 over Diamond Sports at the West Coast Premier Tournament in Salem, Oregon.
The 14U Steelheads, who will move up to 16U this coming fall, won all five of their games at the weekend tournament, two of them in thrilling fashion.
Cole Ayala was named tournament MVP and was one of eight players to hit over .400 for the Steelheads, who batted .432 as a team and outscored their opponents 51-17.
The Steelheads trailed 10-9 going into the bottom of the sixth inning of the championship game, before pulling even when Ayala scored on a wild pitch and then taking the lead on a Chase Coleman sac fly to center field.
Hank Phifer scored four runs in addition to posting the win on the mound, with Jaden Lack recording the save with an eight-pitch final inning against a red-hot Diamonds team.
Lack also had a big say in the tournament opener, hitting a walk-off RBI single to seal a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Northwest Diamond Black.
The impressive Arcata duo of Cedar Cline and Miles Oliver shut out their opponents on the mound through the opening four innings. (Both players also pitched well in the championship game.)
Cline also had a game-tying double before Lack’s walk-off hit, while Coleman, Ayala, Elam Wright and Brody Mattz all had big hits in the comeback win.
The Steelheads won their second game 13-1 against the Oregon Flash, with Ray Rusgrove getting the win on the mound and coming up with a big hit at the plate. Mattz and Ayala each also had big hits in the win.
The Steelheads followed that with a 9-1 win over Northwest Diamond Sports Orange.
Myles Standish dominated on the mound with two shutout innings for the win, while Ayala, Lack, Mattz and Rusgrove all had multiple-hit games.
Standish carried his impressive form into Sunday’s knockout stages, dominating the Northwest Diamond Sports Orange again, holding them hitless over three innings in a 12-0 win.
Standish did not allow a hit all weekend.
At the plate, Lack finished with two hits and four RBIs, including a triple, while Oliver, Rusgrove and Ayala all had doubles.
Mattz, Ayala, Wright, Lack, Rusgrove, Standish, Coleman and Cline all hit .400 or better for the five games.
Behind the plate, the duo of Ayala and Wright impressed all weekend, as they have all summer for their respective American Legion teams.
The Steelheads will now move up to the 15U/16U division and are scheduled to travel to Las Vegas for a tournament at the end of October.
The Steelheads feature mostly players from Humboldt and Del Norte counties, with a couple of Bay Area players rounding out the roster.