By Ray Hamill— The St. Bernard’s Crusaders gave the McKinleyville Panthers all they could handle early on in Wednesday’s Charlie Lakin Tournament opener at the Arcata Sports Complex, but the Big 5 runners-up pulled away with a big fourth inning on the way to a 15-5 win.
The Panthers trailed three times early in the game, but responded on each occasion to pull their way back, before eventually settling down and ending the game in five innings.
The win sets up an intriguing semifinal showdown against Little 4 champs Hoopa on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Lead-off hitter Camryn Pinard continued to impress for McKinleyville and finished 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs, while teammate Taya Gomes finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs.
Mashell Stumpf also had a big day at the plate and finished 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs, while Bailee Box was 2-for-4 with two runs and Rebecca Barnett finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Senior Allie Egbert got the win in the circle and settled into the game, allowing just six hits and three walks and striking out six.
Morgan Stubbs added a base hit, two runs and two RBIs, while Trinity Preston added a base hit and two runs.
Egbert and Kennedy Minton rounded out a 15-hit team performance.
After scoring nine runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers ended the game early on the 10-run rule with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
St. Bernard’s came out swinging and opened up a two-run lead in the top of the first.
After Mack had responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, the Crusaders re-took the lead in the top of the second, and would do so a third time with two runs in the top of the fourth.
Ultimately, however, the Panthers, who are the top-ranked Division-IV team in the North Coast Section, would pull away.
Senior Emma Wilson finished 2-for-3 for St. Bernard’s, while teammates Kodi Meyer, Courteney Goodman, Torrin Baty and Kiara McGinnis each added a hit.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 15-6, while the Crusaders are now 7-15.