By Ray Hamill — After battling all the way to the final day of the regular season for the Big 5 championship, the Del Norte Warriors and Eureka Loggers will match up one more time in Friday’s Charlie Lakin tournament championship game.
The Big 5 rivals both won close and entertaining semifinals at the Arcata Sports Complex on Thursday, with the two game each decided by a single run.
The Warriors, who edged Eureka for the league title last week, came from behind to beat McKinleyville 5-4 in a back-and-forth opener, before the Loggers got the better of Hoopa 2-1.
The Loggers broke the deadlock in the top of the first when Bailey Brown scored the game’s opening run, but the Warriors would tie things up in the bottom of the third.
It didn’t start that way for long, however, with Mariah Napoleon hitting a key double for what would be the winning run in the fourth, scoring Maeghan Hampton who had reached base on a hit-by-pitch.
The showdown featured two of the best pitchers in the H-DN and they didn’t disappoint.
In addition to Napoleon’s game-winning double, Brown and Morris each also had a hit.
Colegrove got the only hit for the Warriors, who had beaten the bigger school 8-1 in a recent showdown in Hoopa.
Earlier in the day, the Del Norte and McKinleyville girls kept a large crowd engaged in cold conditions.
The Warriors took an early one-run lead, but the Panthers responded in the top of the fourth with Taya Gomes and Trinity Preston hitting home runs on back-to-back pitches to give their team a 3-1 lead.
The Del Norte girls, however, continued to battle.
After leaving a pair of base runners stranded in the bottom of the fourth, they were able to tie things up again in the fifth, scoring three successive runs on a bases-loaded walk, a passed ball and a groundout.
They re-took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of McKinleyville errors and that would prove to be just enough in a tight game.
Shay Nolan impressed again on her way to the win in the circle.
Sargent threw five strong innings, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out four.
Stumpf also was 2-for-3 at the plate, while her younger sister Liana Stumpf and Camryn Pinard each also had a hit in the loss.
Friday’s championship game will be played at the Arcata Sport Complex, with first pitch set for 5 p.m.