There has been little to separate the top teams at this week’s Humboldt Eagles American Legion 17U tournament, with three of the six clubs involved tied atop the standings after pool play.
The Northern Humboldt Giants, Lassen and the Northern Humboldt Steelheads are all 3-1 heading into Sunday’s playoff round, while the host team is right on their heels at 2-2.
There were five games to close out pool play on Saturday, with the Steelheads defeating the Eagles 4-0; the Giants getting the better of the Southern Humboldt 76ers 10-6; the Eagles beating the 76ers 11-10; the Giants defeating the Pioneers 6-4; and Lassen defeating the Steelheads 10-4.
The 76ers (1-3) will play the Pioneers (0-4) at 9 a.m., followed by Lassen and the Eagles in the first semifinal at 11:30 a.m. and the Giants and Steelheads in the second semifinal at 2 p.m.
Lassen received the top seed for the playoff round, with the Steelheads No. 2, the Giants No. 3 and the Eagles No. 4.
The tournament championship is set for 4:40 p.m. and all four of Sunday’s games will be played at the Redwood Fields in Cutten.
Eagles pitchers set the tone
The Eagles are coming together, and more importantly having fun.
Drew Franklin pitched six strong innings against the Steelheads on Saturday, but took the loss after Eagles errors led to some Steelhead runs.
Franklin allowed just two earned runs in six innings and struck out three.
“He had a great game, we just didn’t back him defensively,” head coach Kennan Snipes said.
Alex Jimenez continued to throw strikes in the Eagles’ 11-10 win over the 76ers, pitching three innings for the win.
Michael Jewell led the way at the plate and was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
The soon-to-be Eureka sophomore also has helped set the tone defensively with some strong performances behind the plate all summer.
“He’s a phenomenal catcher,” Snipes said.
Tyler Maples also had some big at-bats this week and 2-for-3 with an RBI in Saturday’s win, while Cody Collins, Cooper Ohlsen and Mateo Gutierrez each also finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Cole Zeller also continued to impress this week and has been a force at the plate all summer, while Tyler Schlesiger rediscovered his form at the plate with a couple of big hits.
Franklin and Jorge Lopez-Cortes have been among the most consistent arms on the mound for the team, while Miles Sorenson impressed in a 5-1 win over the Pioneers on Thursday, allowing no earned runs in five innings and striking out five.
Cooper Ohlsen also has been a consistent presence on the hill and “always does great for us,” according to his coach.
Royce Olsen also had a big game pitching against Portland in a pre-tournament game on Wednesday, allowing four hits in five innings and striking out seven in an 11-1 win.
Young players continue to impress for the Giants
A pair of young catchers continue to impress for the Giants who bounced back from a tournament opening loss to Lassen on Thursday with three straight wins.
Tanner Kees and Mateo Reiman have played a pivotal role for the team all summer despite their young age.
“My two young catchers have been doing a very good job of controlling the game tempo,” head coach Troy Ghisetti said.
The ever-consistent William Bommelyn also continues to impress at the plate and finished 3-for-7 over the two games on Saturday, while Miles Oliver was 4-for-6.
“We’ve been doing some good things,” Ghisetti said. “We’ve been making a lot of mental errors on the bases defensively, but the kids have stayed tough.”
On the mound, Joe Tanno struck out 13 and walked just two in a complete game on Saturday to lead the Giants to a 6-4 win over the Pioneers.
“We’ve pretty much been contributing all the way through,” Ghisetti said. “A lot of people have been contributing. It’s been a great summer.”
The Giants will play the Steelheads at 2 p.m. on Sunday to see who gets through to the championship game.
The Giants are now 16-8 overall.
‘Must-watch’ Freitas shines for 76ers
Justin Freitas was a big bright spot for the 76ers on Saturday.
The South Fork standout finished 4-for-4 with three triples and four RBIs against the Eagles.
“He hit line drives all day,” Eagles head coach Kennan Snipes said of the 76ers player. “He did fantastic.”
76ers head coach Colton Stokesberry also paid tribute to Freitas.
“Justin’s development this summer is turning him into a must-watch player for South Fork next spring in the Little 4,” he said.
Cole Victorine also had a good game against the Eagles and finished 2-for-3 with a double and a sac fly, while also striking out six in 4.2 innings on the mound.
Teammate Trent Titus was 2-for-3 and had a remarkable five stolen bases.
“Our bats have been coming alive the last couple of weeks, putting up runs and giving our pitchers the confidence to keep us in the game,” Stokesberry said. “Our base running discipline and small ball has elevated our whole offense.”
The 76ers play the Pioneers at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Steelheads starting to click
Things are coming together nicely for the Steelheads, who are coming off an impressive few days in tournament play.
The team has been playing well in all aspects of the game, as they get set for a big matchup against the Giants with a place in the championship game on the line.
“This tournament, the pitching has been key, and the defense has been behind them, so we’re really clicking right now,” head coach Jeremy Sargent said. “And we’re getting some timely hits.”
Kolbey Stolpe got the win on the mound against the Eagles, allowing just two hits in five innings in relief and striking out three.
Stolpe also has been providing some timely hits at the plate, along with teammate Tyson Bragg.
But overall, it has been the team performances that have impressed the head coach.
“It takes a group to win,” Sargent said. “We’ve had a couple of standouts getting some timely hits, but overall the whole team is clicking together right now.”
Sunday’s game against the Giants will be the first of the summer between the two Northern Humboldt rivals.
“I’m excited. It should be a a good baseball game,” Sargent said.
First pitch is set for 2 p.m.