By Ray Hamill — A number of former H-DNL players are enjoying big seasons on the collegiate baseball fields, most notably at the JC level, where three of them are playing for highly-ranked teams.
Former McKinleyville Panther Cameron Saso, who will play for the Humboldt Crabs this summer, is a two-way player at Lake Folsom College, which is the No. 9 team in California.
Over at Butte, meanwhile, Ferndale’s Landon Gomes and Eureka’s Hayden Bode are both having a big impact for the Roadrunners, the No. 14 team in the state.
Gomes has played in 32 games for the 23-10 Roadrunners and is batting .333 on the season — .377 in the Golden Valley Conference — with a team-high 24 RBIs.
The 2020 Ferndale graduate also has eight doubles, which is tied for second on the team, and has been on fire lately with multiple hits in five of his last six games.
Gomes enjoyed a very productive return to the North Coast last weekend and had five hits, seven RBIs and a pair of stolen bases in two games against College of the Redwoods.
The former Ferndale standout also scored seven runs, including six in a 24-12 win win Friday, and one in Saturday’s 19-4 win.
Bode is also enjoying a productive freshman season with the team and has taken on a relief pitcher role.
The 2021 Eureka High graduate has an ERA of 1.35 and has appeared in six games, including one scoreless inning against Redwoods on Saturday.
Butte is 15-3 in the Golden Valley Conference and second in the standings, behind Feather River (18-1).
Saso, meanwhile, has appeared in 29 games for the Falcons, who are tied for first in the Big 8 Conference with a record of 12-4 and 26-6-1 overall.
Saso is batting .241 and also has been productive out of the bullpen with an ERA of 3.45 in 11 appearances.
The 2020 Mack graduate is 1-0 with three saves.
St. Bernard’s Caleb Ruiz will join Saso on the Crabs this summer and has appeared in nine games for College of San Mateo.
Ruiz, a 2019 Crusaders graduate, is a relief pitcher for the Bulldogs, who are tied for second in the Coast North Conference with a record of 9-4 and 18-13 overall.
Ruiz, who debuted with the Crabs last summer, is 1-0 with an ERA of 2.45.
Former Arcata Tiger Jaden Gorge also has impressed at Shasta College this spring and is batting .282 in 27 games for the Knights, who are 4-14 in the GVC and 9-22 overall.
He has 18 RBIs, third best on the team.
Gorge faced off against one of his former Arcata teammates, Mason Nichols, recently when the Knights played College of the Redwoods.
Nichols is also enjoying a productive spring and is batting .253 in 27 games for the Corsairs, who are 3-15 and 9-22.
The 2021 Arcata graduate is second on the team with 25 RBIs and third with nine doubles, and also has two home runs.
Another couple of former H-DNL standouts are also competing at the NCAA Division-III level.
Up in Salem, Oregon, Eureka’s Ethan Fischel has been outstanding once again playing at Willamette University.
Fischel, a 2018 Loggers graduate who starred for the Humboldt Crabs last summer, is batting .311 in 32 games for the Bearcats, who are 12-12 in the Northwest Conference and 17-16 overall.
The senior infielder leads the team in RBIs (33), doubles (11), home runs (six) and walks (19).
Over in Minnesota, former McKinleyville Panther Jacob Smith is playing for Carleton College and has appeared in all 16 games for the Knights, including 13 starts.
The senior catcher/first baseman is batting .239 with three doubles and a home run.
The Knights are 4-12 on the season.