By Ray Hamill — Get ready for a Friday doubleheader to decide the unofficial Big 5 championship in baseball.
On Wednesday, the Arcata Tigers held on to defeat the Eureka Loggers 8-7 at the Arcata Ball Park, leaving both teams with identical 8-2 records against Big 5 opponents in this COVID-shortened season.
They meet again on Friday at Bomber Field in what essentially will be a championship deciding doubleheader, even if the league is not awarding an official title this year.
“It was a big one for us,” Arcata head Troy Ghisetti said afterwards.
Neither team was at their best, with a lot of hit batsmen, walks and errors, but it was certainly entertaining, with the Tigers having to hold on late for the win after the visitors scored twice in the top of the seventh to make for an interesting finish.
The Tigers scored five runs in the bottom of the second, but the Loggers responded immediately with four of their own in the top of the third, before tying the game at 5-5 an inning later.
With the momentum slipping away, the Tigers responded well themselves, re-taking control with three more runs over the next two innings, before Eureka’s late rally.
“I thought the kids staying in there and getting hit by the ball and getting walks when the counts were not in their favor was huge for us,” Ghisetti said. “The kids are getting better.”
Eureka’s Brayden Youkey led the way at the plate, finishing 3-for-3 with a double, while teammate Hayden Bode was 2-for-4.
For Arcata, Vincent Agliolo, Alex Gorge and Isaiah Levy each had two hits, with Nick Parker rounding out a seven-hit team performance.
Agliolo also got the win on the mound, pitching 6.2 solid innings.
He allowed eight hits, while walking three and striking out five.
Cedar Cline got the save in a pressure situation, with sophomore center fielder Miles Oliver coming up with a couple of big catches at the end, including a spectacular diving catch for the first out of the final inning.
Had Oliver not made that play, it could have been a different ending.
For Eureka, Jackson Giacone had a triple, while Parker Rodgers hit his ninth double of the season.
Keenan Morris and Ethan Pesch each also had a hit.
Myles Standish pitched the opening two innings for Eureka, with Connor Johnson and Caden Vance both seeing time out of the bullpen.
The win was the eighth straight for the Tigers, whose only blemish on their record is two losses to Fortuna earlier in the season.
They are now 10-2 overall and have more wins than any other Big 5 team, and tied with St. Bernard’s for best record in the H-DNL.
Cedar Cline in action for Arcata.The Loggers, meanwhile, drop to 9-2, and find themselves in a familiar position, having also dropped their series opener against Fortuna last week, before responding with two huge wins two days later.
Whether they can do the same thing this time around remains to be seen, but with so much on the line it should be an exciting end to the season.
First pitch on Friday is set for 4 p.m.