The race for the Big 5 championship took another twist on Saturday when the Arcata Tigers and McKinleyville Panthers split a league doubleheader at Mack High.
The host school took game one 2-1 after breaking a late tie with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Tigers responded to take game two 6-3 and remain well in contention for the league crown.
The Tigers go into the final week of the regular season with a record of 6-3 in the Big 5 and tied with Fortuna atop the standings.
The Big 5 has been competitive from top to bottom this season, with only one sweep in eight league series so far, and going into the final week of the regular season none of the five teams have a losing record.
Remarkably, if the Loggers and Warriors were to sweep in the final week, all five teams would finish in a tie for the championship with identical 6-6 records.
In other local games on Saturday, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders improved to 10-0 in the Little 4 and secured the league championship with a doubleheader sweep at Hoopa.
The SB boys won game one 9-0 and took game two 12-0 in five innings.
Also in the Little 4, Ferndale and South Fork split a doubleheader in hot conditions in Miranda, with the Cubs taking game one 5-4 in 10 innings and the Wildcats winning game two 17-5 in five innings.
The Fortuna Huskies also were in action and got back to winning ways with an 8-3 non-league win at Justin-Siena.
Del Norte 3, Eureka 2
Del Norte 6, Eureka 2
The Warriors secured their first Big 5 series win by sweeping a doubleheader against Eureka in Crescent City.
And they achieved it with some outstanding pitching, most notably from starters Preston Daniels and Cole Blackburn.
The impressive sophomore threw six innings for a no-decision.
After the Loggers had tied the game with a run in the top of the seventh, the Warriors got a walk-off victory when Ethan Thomas hit an RBI base hit in the bottom half of the inning, scoring Willie Bommelyn, who had singled to lead off the inning and was advanced on a sac bunt.
Bommelyn finished 2-for-3 and scored a pair of runs, while teammate Collin Tromble was 2-for-3 with a double and Brody Mattz was 1-for-2 with a big two-RBI hit in the third.
Saxon Taylor also had a hit in the win.
Eureka’s Rogan Bode hit a solo home run in the first inning to give his team the early lead, while teammate Ean Savage finished 2-for-4 with a run and Jesse Vasquez, Cole Zeller and Caden Vance each also had a hit.
Cooper Ohlsen pitched six strong innings for a no-decision, with Bode taking the loss in relief.
Thomas got the win in relief of Daniels.
Cole Blackburn pitched a complete game for the win, allowing just one earned run on six hits and striking out six.
“Our pitching staff did a great job today,” Coborn said. “Preston Daniels, Cole Blackburn and Ethan Thomas all did an amazing job throwing strikes, and our defense played really well, taking care of the baseball and getting outs when we needed outs. I was really impressed with how our defense played.”
Bommelyn added two more hits in game two, including a triple, as well as an RBI and a run, while Taylor was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Thomas added a double and a run, while Sylas Sampels and Cooper Maxwell each had a hit and a run.
“We hit the ball pretty good,” Coborn said.
Bode finished 2-for-4 to lead the Eureka offense, while Vance was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Ty Crawford was 1-for-2 with a run and Zeller was 1-for-1.
Crawford took the loss on the mound, with Sebastian Standish pitching in relief.
The Warriors improved to 3-6 in the Big 5 and 10-10-1 overall, while the Loggers dropped to 3-6 and 10-8.