By Ray Hamill — A large crowd was treated to great game of baseball at Newburg Park on Wednesday night, as the Fortuna Huskies continued to roll with a 4-3 extra-innings win over visiting St Bernard’s.
Regan Nyberg drove in the winning run on a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning after another outstanding effort from senior pitcher Branson Gans.
“It was a very good baseball game,” Fortuna head coach Andy Olson said. “One of the better ones I’ve been a part of it.”
Billed as a battle between two of the best pitchers on the North Coast this spring, the showdown lived up to expectations, with both Gans and St. Bernard’s Nick Dugan in control throughout.
The Huskies broke the deadlock with two runs in the bottom of the third, but the Crusaders battled back to tie things up and both teams were all square at 3-3 after seven.
Gans overcame another shaky start, but went on to strike out 14 in eight innings, while allowing just six hits before reaching his pitch limit.
“In all three of his starts, once he gets through the first inning he’s been pretty good,” Olson said. “He’s a very good athlete and he’s definitely given us a chance to win all three games he’s been a part of.”
Dugan was equally impressive, with two of the Huskies’ runs scoring on passed balls.
“Nick’s a very talented pitcher and he threw as hard as advertised,” Olson said.
The Crusaders junior struck out nine in seven innings, while allowing four hits and walking five.
“Tip of my cap to Fortuna and Branson Gans,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “He had a heck of an outing on the mound.
“It was a great pitchers’ duel between two of the best in Humboldt.”
Wyatt Wilson pitched the final inning for the win, with Nyberg driving in Cody Collins on a ground ball up the middle for the winning run after Collins was hit by a pitch to reach base.
Nyberg had a disciplined night at the plate, finishing 1-for-2 with three walks, while teammate Daniel Osborne was 1-for-4 with a big RBI double in the bottom of the third to break the deadlock.
Aaron Head-Mason also had a double, while Wilson and Cole Ayala rounded out a five-hit team performance.
Bode Joyner was huge for St. Bernard’s in the loss, finishing 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
“He carried us offensively tonight,” Tomlin said of the senior standout. “He had three hits, a double off the wall, and he just really stepped up and played big time against a really good pitcher.”
Dugan, who finished with a no-decision, also drove in one of his team’s runs on a suicide squeeze bunt, while Braeden Zimmerman was 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Aidan Dorsch took the loss on the mound in relief of Dugan, but had a big impact at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“I was really happy,” Tomlin said of his team’s performance. “We got better as a team tonight. We were in a battle with a great team.”
With the win, the Huskies improved to 6-2 and now have more wins than any other team in the H-DNL.
The Crusaders saw a five-game winning streak snapped and are now 5-2, with both losses coming against Big 5 opponents.