An intriguing Big 5 just got a little more so on Saturday.
With Arcata sweeping a doubleheader at home to Fortuna and McKinleyville and Del Norte splitting two games up in Crescent City, every team in league now has at least two losses, while only one of the six league series this spring has resulted in a sweep.
The Panthers took game one of their doubleheader 9-0, before the Warriors responded to take game two 2-1 for their first league win.
Del Norte’s Preston Daniels pitched a complete game for the Warriors’ win, allowing just one earned run on four hits and one walk and striking out five.
This standout sophomore has really established himself this spring and appears to be getting stronger with each outing.
“He’s only a sophomore and I’m going to say it now, he’s one of the best pitchers in league,” Del Norte head coach Brandon Coborn said. “He has come so far.”
Daniels has been particularly successful in his three appearances against McKinleyville this season and has given up just two earned runs in 12 innings against them.
“He threw great for them,” McKinleyville head coach Mike Dobrec said.
McKinleyville junior Evan Fraser was equally impressive on the hill in game one of the doubleheader.
Fraser pitched a complete-game two-hitter on just 60 pitches on his way to the shutout victory.
“He threw lights out,” Dobrec said.
McKinleyville’s Tyson Bragg had a good game at the plate and was 2-for-3 with a triple, while teammate Scott Meyer was 2-for-3 with two RBI hits.
Saxon Taylor and Sylas Sampels had Del Norte’s only hits in the game.
Cole Blackburn got the start on the hill for the Warriors and threw 4.2 innings, allowing five hits and three walks and striking out three.
Brody Mattz pitched the final 1.1 innings, and the two Del Norte pitchers gave up just four earned runs between them as the Warriors defense made some costly errors again.
The team defense, however, picked up in game two with just one error, giving Daniels plenty of support.
Sampels remained hot at the plate and was 2-for-3 with a run, while the influential Cooper Maxwell was 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Ethan Thomas drove in the Warriors’ other run on a sac fly, with Taylor, Mattz and Willie Bommelyn each also getting a hit.
“We got to avoid the sweep and I’m extremely proud of the boys for their game two performance,” Del Norte head coach Brandon Coborn said. “That first game got away from us, but the boys responded well in game two.”
McKinleyville’s Branson Dobrec pitched six solid innings despite taking the loss on the hill, and the Panthers had their chances to pull out the victory but left a pair of runners stranded in scoring position in the sixth and also had a runner picked off at second in the seventh.
Meyer made his presence felt at the plate again with another RBI hit, with Stolpe, Tenoch Tapia and Pat Wilson each also getting a hit.
Next up, on Wednesday, the Warriors play at Eureka and the Panthers host Arcata.