Young Panthers showing signs of progress

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – McKinleyville’s Corbin Eichin delivers a pitch against Del Norte on Wednesday.

The McKinleyville Panthers got their first win of the season at home to Del Norte on Wednesday afternoon, running out to a 9-2 victory in H-DNL baseball.

After dropping three games to powerhouse Eureka last week, the Panthers opened up an early lead on Wednesday and never trailed, with pitchers Corbin Eichin and Branson Dobrec in control all afternoon.

“It was good to get a win,” McKinleyville head coach Scott St. John said. “We’re getting better, and that’s what I like to see. We’re improving every game, but we’ve still got a long ways to go.”

The Panthers have just two players with any real varsity experience, Eichin and fellow senior T-Ryan Stumpf, each of whom has been playing a major role in their teammates’ development.

On Wednesday, Eichin allowed two hits and three walks in four scoreless innings, while striking out four.

He also had a stolen base.

Dobrec got the save, allowing just one earned run in three innings, while striking out two and walking none.

“For a freshman coming in, he did a good job,” the head coach said of Dobrec.

“And Corbin, of course, is being a senior and doing everything for us. He’s hitting for us, he’s running the bases, and playing good center field when he’s not pitching.”

The versatile Stumpf played catcher on Wednesday.

“He’s a real athletic kid,” St. John said. “He can play a lot of positions. Those two (Stumpf and Eichin), they’re the leaders of our team.”

Brodie Sargent and Austin Brown both remained hot at the plate and each finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Stumpf, Riley Bates Beau Karrer and Logan Maher rounded out a 10-hit team performance.

The win comes after a much-improved performance against Eureka in Friday’s doubleheader, two days after the Panthers had been blown out in their season opener.

“We’ve gotten better,” St. John said. “We played really good in the doubleheader against Eureka on Friday. I was happy with their progress.” 

For Del Norte, Jared Dixon was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while William Bommelyn, Daylen O’Reilley and Cole Blackburn each also had a hit.

Brody Mattz got the start on the mound for Del Norte, allowing five hits in three innings and striking out two.

With the win, McKinleyville is now 1-3, while Del Norte drops to 1-3.

The two teams play a doubleheader in Crescent City on Saturday, with first pitch at 11 a.m.

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