McKinleyville and Arcata got the Big 5 off to a winning start on Wednesday, as the two Northern Humboldt rivals moved into an early tie for the league lead.
The Panthers defeated Fortuna 8-5 in a game that was switched to McKinleyville High at the last minute, while the Tigers beat the Loggers 11-6 at Bomber Field in Eureka.
The Tigers had a good day at the plate in an early league matchup between the two defending co-champions.
Will Mager set the early tone with a first-inning home run, which gave his teammates some much-needed momentum playing against the league favorites and Eureka ace Myles Standish.
“I thought we really attacked well against Standish, and he’s one of the best pitches in league,” Arcata head coach Troy Ghisetti said. “Mager’s home run in the first inning, the kids got some life behind that, and we were able to execute, and we hit the ball hard today.”
Mager finished 2-for-3 with the home run, while teammate Anthony Ebert went 2-for-4 with a triple and Ben Lukens was 2-for-3 with a double.
Ebert pitched the opening 3.1 innings for the win on the mound, with Lukens and Miles Oliver throwing in relief.
The Arcata pitchers gave up a combined nine walks and “weren’t as sharp” as the head coach would have liked, but the Tigers defense played well to help them secure the win.
Chase Coleman added a double as the Tigers improved to 1-0 in league and 5-1 overall, with Wilson Medina and Finn Warner each also getting a hit.
Freshman Ty Crawford led the Loggers at the plate and finished 3-for-4, while Seth Grammar added a double and Caden Vance and Robert Williams each also had a hit.
“They outplayed us, they outreached us and they beat us in every aspect of the game,” Eureka head coach Shannon Rodgers said.
Standish wasn’t as sharp as usual and was relieved early by Vance with some soreness in his arm.
Vance, however, pitched well in relief.
The loss was the first of the season for Eureka, which dropped to 4-1 overall.
McKinleyville 8, Fortuna 5
McKinleyville’s Jack Saso hit a three-run home run in the third inning to give his team a four-run lead, and the Panthers made it stick down the stretch, as they held off a late rally by the visitors.
After a back-and-forth opening two innings, Saso’s big blast put the Panthers up 6-2 and ultimately that was the difference in the game.
Eight different McKinleyville players hit successfully in the win, as the Panthers improved to 4-1 on the season and continued to impress despite limited game time this spring because of the weather.
Riley Bates also had a productive day at the plate and finished 2-for-2 with an RBI, while Tyson Bragg went 2-for-4 with a triple and Kolbey Stolpe was 1-for-4 with a double.
Bates got the start on the mound and threw three good innings before being pulled because of his pitch count.
Evan Fraser took over and closed out the game, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
Pat Wilson also had an impact in the victory, finishing 1-for-1, while Scott Meyer went 1-for-2, Kaden Waugh was 1-for-3 and Jackson Kelly was 1-for-4.
No stats were immediately available for Fortuna, which dropped to 0-1 in league play and 2-5-1 overall.
Categories: Arcata, baseball, Eureka, Fortuna, McKinleyville
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