The Big 5 co-champs will get to face off once more in Saturday’s Charlie Lakin Tournament championship game.
In the first of Thursday’s semifinals at the Arcata Ball Park, the Arcata Tigers overcame some early defensive miscues and rallied from a late three-run deficit on the way to beating Fortuna 6-4.
Eureka followed that with a 1-0 win over St. Bernard’s in a brilliant pitchers’ duel in the second semifinal to set up a fourth showdown this season between the two league rivals.
The Tigers took time to get going in their game, in part because of some sloppy defense and in part because of a very good performance by Fortuna pitcher Cole Ayala.
The Huskies junior threw five strong innings, allowing just two earned runs on four hits and striking out eight, before tiring late in the game.
Finn McRae was equally impressive for the Tigers, allowing four hits and no walks in six innings and striking out four.
Vincent Agliolo pitched one shutout inning for the save.
At the plate, the Tigers were led by Nick Parker, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles, while teammates Miles Oliver and Chet Keasey each finished 2-for-3.
Anthony Ebert and Will Mager each also had a hit for the Tigers, who improved to 22-3 on the season.
“I thought we had some mental lapses and it just shows the character of this team to snap back and put pressure on a very good pitching performance by Ayala,” Arcata head coach Troy Ghisetti said.
Cody Collins and Matt Letter each had a double for Fortuna, while Rylan Lommori, Cole Victorine and Colt Chamberlain each also had a hit.
Fortuna head coach Andy Olsen said it was a tough loss, but added that he was pleased with the way his team played against a quality opponent and felt his players did a good job improvising.
“It was frustrating when it fell apart,” he said. “But all in all we played far better than we’ve played lately.”
Saturday’s championship game is set for 7 p.m.
The Tigers won two of three previous matchups between the two Big 5 rivals.