Huskies end long championship drought as Arcata, Del Norte split

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Del Norte’s Ethan Thomas in action at Arcata on Thursday.

This year’s Big 5 has been anything but predictable, and that continued to be the case in the final week of action.

On Thursday, the Fortuna Huskies clinched at least a share of their first championship in decades thanks to the Del Norte Warriors, who split a doubleheader at Arcata.

The Tigers took game one 9-8, but the Warriors, who had won the series opener in Crescent City on Wednesday, battled back to take the rubber game 4-1.

The split means the Tigers close out league play at 7-5, handing the 7-3 Huskies at least a share of the title with two games remaining.

If Fortuna can win at least one of their two final games at home to Eureka on Friday, they will be crowned outright champs.

The league title is believed to be the first for the Huskies since the 1970s.

The Huskies and Tigers came into the final week of league play tied atop the standings, but Fortuna re-took sole possession of the Big 5 lead after beating Eureka 3-1 on Wednesday as the Tigers faltered.

The series win for the Warriors was their second straight and the Del Norte boys have now gone 5-2 since beginning league play 0-5.

The series loss was the first in league play for the Tigers, who are now 18-6 overall.

The victory in game two lifts the Warriors to 12-11-1 on the season and guarantees they will be playoff eligible.

Both of Thursday’s games were close early on, but the Warriors opened up a six-run lead with five runs in the top of the fourth.

However, with their league hopes on the line, the Tigers answered immediately and plated seven runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead.

They would stretch the advantage to three with insurance runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings and were able to hold the Warriors to two runs in the top of the seventh to secure the narrow victory.

Will Mager led Arcata at the plate and finished 4-for-4 with a double, while Anthony Ebert was 2-for-3 with a home run.

Noah York also had a double, with Finn Warner, Ty Ghisetti and Cedar Cline rounding out a 10-hit team performance.

Ben Lukens pitched six innings for the win and struck out five, with Cline throwing one inning in relief.

Ebert added another home run in the second game, giving him two for the day and three at the new Arcata field this season.

Teammate Chase Coleman was 2-for-2, while Ghisetti was 1-for-2.

Cline pitched 5.2 innings and struck out seven while taking the loss on the mound, with Finn Warner throwing 1.1 innings in relief.

While their hopes of tying for the league title remain alive, albeit slim, the Tigers exceeded most observers expectations this season with a top-two finish, especially with five starters injured for much of the campaign.

“I’m very happy with the way we finished up this year,” head coach Troy Ghisetti said. “The kids performed better than I expected at the start of the year. They exceeded way beyond my expectations this year.

“We’re beat-up right now. I’ve got five guys beat-up and they gave us all they had.”

The Tigers will likely have six days to rest up before opening the Charlie Lakin tournament on Wednesday.

We’ll have much more on the Warriors and all their stats from the doubleheader on Friday.

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