By Ray Hamill — Let’s hope this one is a little more competitive. I have a feeling it will be.
On Thursday afternoon, in the most anticipated game of the season so far, St. Bernard’s will host Arcata in a non-league baseball showdown between the top two teams in the H-DNL and two of the top teams in the entire North Coast Section.
The Arcata boys are 6-0 and have been playing outstanding so far, including an 11-1 win over St. Bernard’s two weeks ago in the Crusader Classic championship game.
Thursday’s game, however, should be a more competitive matchup, with St. Bernard’s ace Nick Dugan set to take the mound.
And if there’s any pitcher in the area who can potentially contain the red-hot Tigers — who hit six home runs in a doubleheader at Kelseyville on Saturday — it’s surely Dugan.
Conversely, if there’s one lineup in the H-DNL that can challenge Dugan better than anyone else, it’s surely the Tigers, who have outscored their opponents 73-4 in their six games so far, including three shutouts.
Both teams are also highly ranked within their divisions in the NCS.
The Tigers are No. 1 in Division IV, according to Max Preps, and also the No. 5 ranked team in the entire section overall, behind only De La Salle, Cardinal Newman, Clayton Valley and Foothill.
The Crusaders, whose only loss in six games this season was against the Tigers, are No. 1 in Division VI and currently No. 25 overall in the section.
Both teams are similarly stacked, with experienced senior-heavy rosters and two of the best head coaches in the area, and both are sizable favorites to win their respective leagues.
All of which makes for a fascinating matchup on Thursday.
Arcata’s Vincent Agliolo, Finn McRae and Nick Parker are all expected to see time on the mound.
Game time is set for 4 p.m.