By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies have been one of the stories of the young season in H-DNL baseball, and that continued to be the case on Friday night at the Arcata Ball Park.
With senior Branson Gans leading the way both on the mound and at the plate, the Huskies won game one of a doubleheader against the Arcata Tigers, 4-3, securing their second straight series win to start the season.
The Tigers would bounce back to take game two, 3-1, capping a highly entertaining series between the two clubs this week, and one that featured some outstanding pitching.
In a hard-fought game one, the Huskies took an early two-run lead and held it for much of the game, before the Tigers rallied to tie things up in the bottom of the fifth.
The Fortuna boys, however, answered immediately, with Gans hitting a two-run double off the right field wall in the top of the sixth.
The senior standout finished 3-for-4 in game one, and would add a second double in game two.
He also had a good night pitching, working six innings for the win in the opener, allowing six hits and two walks and striking out nine.
“He did well,” Fortuna head coach Andy Olson said. “In both of his starts he’s gotten in a little bit of trouble in the first inning, and once he’s got through that he’s been on cruise control after that.”
Wyatt Wilson pitched the final inning for the save.
Both Fortuna pitchers got plenty of help from their defense, including an unassisted double play by second baseman Matt Berti in the bottom of the third.
Sophomore Matt Letter gave the Huskies the lead on a two-RBI single in the bottom of the second.
The Tigers had their chances and left two runners stranded in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth before finally getting on the scoreboard an inning later.
Arcata pitcher Nick Parker had a good night on the mound and also scored his team’s first run on a Vincent Agliolo base hit.
Riley Moser tied the game moments later on a Mason Nichols base hit.
Nichols continued his impressive start to the season with another solid night at the plate, finishing with a pair of base hits in each game, including a double in game two.
Parker pitched six innings, allowing five hits and three walks, while striking out four.
He also was 2-for-4 at the plate, with Finn McRea rounding out a six-hit team performance.
For Fortuna, Daniel Osborne, Jared Egan and Aaron Head-Mason each also had a base hit.
Arcata 3, Fortuna 1
The Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the first and made it stick behind another big pitching performance, this time by McRea.
Both teams have enjoyed outstanding pitching in their three-game series this week.
“We had three quality starts,” Arcata head coach Troy Ghisetti said. “And the same with Fortuna, and it’s great. There’s a lot of competitive pitching in the Big 5, and you’ve got to show up every night to scratch out a win.”
McRea pitched all seven innings for the win, allowing five hits and three walks, while striking out five.
Joey Quen was almost as dominant for the Huskies, pitching a complete game and allowing six hits and one walk, while striking out four.
In addition to Nichols’ two hits, Parker, Agliolo, McRea and Alex Gorge each also had a hit in the win.
The Tigers, however, have had their problems on offense during the opening two weeks of the season.
“We’re not executing very well,” Ghisetti said. “I feel we were lucky to get a win off Fortuna.”
Regan Nyberg led the Huskies at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with a double, while Head-Mason and Letter each also had a base hit.
With the split, the Huskies are now 4-2, while the Tigers are 3-2.