Panthers prevail in series opener with Del Norte

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – McKinleyville’s Riley Bates delivers a pitch during Thursday’s game against Del Norte.

The McKinleyville Panthers took over sole possession of second place in the Big 5 with a 4-1 win over the Del Norte Warriors at McKinleyville High on Thursday.

The win was the third straight in league play for the Panthers, who improved to 4-3 in the Big 5 and 9-6 overall.

The home team scored two runs in the bottom of the third to open up a three-run lead and would stretch the gap to four on a two-out Riles Egbert RBI hit in the sixth.

Senior Riley Bates threw four strong innings for the win on the mound, with sophomore Jackson Kelly also impressing in relief.

“We played good as a team,” head coach Mike Dobrec said. “We played defense and Riley and Jackson threw strikes. That’s the best Kelly has thrown this year. He finally went out there and pitched with confidence.”

Tenoch Tapia also impressed at the plate and finished 2-for-2 with a double, while the ever-dangerous Kolbey Stolpe was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Bryce Sargent also had a base hit in the win.

Bates gave up just two hits in four scoreless innings and struck out three, with Kelly closing out the game and allowing just two hits in three innings and striking out five.

“When we show up to play we’re pretty competitive,” the head coach said.

Ethan Thomas led the way at the plate for the Warriors and finished 2-for-3 with a run, while Saxon Taylor drove in their only run on a late RBI double off the outfield wall.

The in-form Collin Tromble rounded out a four-hit team performance and has “really come on strong,” according to head coach Brandon Coborn.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Coborn said. “We competed and that’s all you can ask as a head coach.”

Willie Bommelyn got the start on the mound for the visitors and threw three good innings before Preston Daniels came in and closed out the game.

“Our pitching staff continues to keep us in ball games,” Coborn said. “We’re just not getting that one hit.”

Bommelyn took the loss, giving up three earned runs on three hits and three walks, while Daniels allowed one earned run on two hits and a walk and struck out four.

Senior catcher Cooper Maxwell also continued to play a key role for the team behind the plate, throwing out a couple of Mack base runners.

“He’s just a big field general for us,” the head coach said. “His energy and what he brings to the field has really helped our pitching staff and the whole team.”

The Warriors dropped to 0-4 in the Big 5 and 7-8-1 overall.

The two teams will conclude their three-game series in a doubleheader in Crescent City on Saturday.

Game one is scheduled for 11 a.m.


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