By Ray Hamill — A young Arcata team has achieved more than most people expected this season, and now the Tigers find themselves two wins from a North Coast Section title.
After being edged out for both the Big 5 and Charlie Lakin Tournament championships by Fortuna, the Tigers have responded with impressive back-to-back wins in the NCS Division-4 playoffs, including a 6-2 victory over Healdsburg at Arcata High on Saturday.
The win was the 22nd on the season for a team that head coach Troy Ghisetti says has “exceeded way beyond my expectations this year,” and he added on Saturday that “you don’t get to 22 wins if you’re not buying in.”
“We’re just having kids step up, and they’re doing a good job,” Ghisetti said. “It’s going to be a whole team effort against Del Norte on Wednesday. Del Norte’s on fire right now, it’s going to be a good game.”
Fresh off their victory at McKinleyville earlier win the week, the visiting Greyhounds struck first on Saturday and took a one-run lead in the top of the first inning.
The Tigers, however, responded immediately and plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a lead they would not relinquish.
The Greyhounds would score a second run in the third, but senior pitcher Miles Oliver and the Arcata defense would shut them out the rest of the way, while the team offense added two more runs in the bottom of the third and one more in the fifth.
“I think that we walked a few too many on the mound,” Ghisetti said. “But we had a lot of kids step up big. It’s been that way all year.”
No one more so on Saturday than sophomore Wilson Medina, who has been red-hot at the plate this postseason.
Medina finished 3-for-3 with a solo home run in the fifth inning and he is now 5-for-5 in the two NCS games.
Will Mager has been almost as impressive.
The senior finished 2-for-3 with a double on Saturday and is now 5-for-6 over the two games this week.
Finn Warner and Cedar Cline each added a base hit against Healdsburg.
Ben Lukens got the start on the hill and threw two solid innings, before Oliver came in and allowed just two hits the remainder of the way, while striking out nine and walking five.
The victory, coupled with Del Norte’s win, guarantees the H-DN at least one team in this year’s Division-4 championship NCS game and it could be two if top seed Fortuna wins its quarterfinal and semifinal.