BASEBALL ROUNDUP — Panthers impress in opener; Warriors split doubleheader

Photos by Erik Fraser – McKinleyville’s Kolbey Stolpe in action at Del Norte on Saturday.

Three local baseball teams got their season under way in a doubleheader at Del Norte on Saturday.

The host Warriors got the better of Ferndale 12-2 in five innings in the opener, but lost game two to McKinleyville, 10-0 in five innings.

In other locals games on Saturday, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders split a doubleheader against Clear Lake at Crusader Field, winning game one 8-2 and dropping game two 10-8 in 12 innings.

Up in Crescent City, the Del Norte Warriors had a productive opening day and got in some much needed innings.

“I was happy to play baseball,” head coach Brandon Coborn said. “It was nice to get out on the field. We scored 12 runs and gave up 12 runs. I think we looked good at times, but we’ve still got things to work on. We learned a lot about ourselves.”

Cole Blackburn pitched three innings for the victory on the mound in game one and also was 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs.

Ethan Thomas also made an impact in an 11-hit team performance against Ferndale.

The multi-sport senior standout made a seamless transition from the basketball court and finished 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs.

Brody Mattz also was 2-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs, while Cooper Maxwell finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Aidan Rice pitched two solid innings in relief.

Game two didn’t go quite as well for the home team, with Sylas Sampels and Saxon Taylor each finishing with a base hit for their team’s only hits of the game.

Sophomore Preston Daniels pitched well in relief in game two, striking out six in three innings.

“A lot of guys stepped up today,” Coborn said. “I thought it was a good team effort in the first game, and in the second game things just got away from us.”

The biggest thing for all three teams was getting the season started after all the bad weather we’ve experienced on the North Coast and Coborn expressed his gratitude to both Ferndale and McKinleyville for making the trip north to play.

Next up for Del Norte is a trip to Grants Pass on Wednesday.

Evan Fraser got the win on the mound at Del Norte on Saturday.

Panthers get off to a winning start

The Panthers got their season off to an impressive start with several players making an impact in the victory.

“It was pretty much a team effort,” head coach Mike Dobrec said. “Everybody contributed today.”

Tyson Bragg helped set the tone early, hitting a bases-clearing triple to key a five-run first inning, and the Panthers never looked back thanks to some good pitching and defense.

Junior Evan Fraser got the start on the mound and did not disappoint, allowing just two hits in 4.1 strong innings and throwing just 40 pitches.

Branson Dobrec continued to frustrate the Del Norte bats and closed out the shutout.

“As a team we just swung the bats well,” Mike Dobrec said. “Everybody had good at-bats, and we played well defensively. We made some good plays in the field and Evan Fraser threw strikes. He pitched really well.”

At the plate, Kolbey Stolpe finished 1-for-1 with an RBI and also reached base on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, while Riley Bates was 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The players were happy to finally get a game in.

“It was definitely good to be back on the field today,” Mike Dobrec said. “They’ve been itching to play.”

McKinleyville’s Branson Dobrec warms up on Saturday.

Young Wildcats show some promise 

A young Ferndale team that has no seniors this season showed some promise in its season opener despite the loss.

“There were definitely some positives to take away,” head coach Justin Andersen said. “We did some good things, but also showed our age on occasion as well.”

Freshman Tanner Pidgeon got his high school career off to an impressive start.

The newcomer was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs, and also made an immediate impact on defense by turning a double play while splitting time at second and third.

Sophomore infielder Jarett Smith also turned a double play and was 1-for-2 at the plate.

Multi-sport standout Trent Titus also was 1-for-2 with a run.

“It was definitely something to build on moving forward,” Andersen said. “We’ve got to keep grinding.”

Austin Michel threw thee innings and took the loss on the mound, with Parker Prior throwing two innings in relief.

“Hats off to (Del Norte), they took care of business,”
 the Ferndale head coach added. “But I was happy with some of our younger kids with how they performed.”

The young Wildcats earned the respect of the opposing coach.

“Ferndale is definitely going to get better,” Coborn said. “They’ve got a good little bunch of players.”

The Wildcats won’t play again until March 22, when they travel to Willits.

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