Ferndale and St. Bernard’s both successfully navigated their North Coast Section semifinals on Saturday to set up an all-Little 4 championship showdown next weekend.
The No. 1 seeded Crusaders scored seven early runs and held on for a 7-1 win over No. 4 Point Arena in Eureka, while the No. 2 Wildcats rallied to beat No. 3 San Domenico 6-5 in Ferndale.
The Cats got some big contributions from multiple freshmen on the way to overcoming a late three-run deficit for the victory.
“It’s the most complete game we’ve played,” head coach Justin Andersen said. “We fell behind early because of our own actions, but we stayed focused … And once we got the momentum we never gave it back.”
Levi Dixon had a big day in the win.
The versatile junior, who has played almost every position for the Cats at one stage or another this spring, took over on the mound with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and got the final five outs of the game for the victory.
He also hit a key two-out, RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Jarett Smith immediately followed that with an RBI double to score Dixon for the winning run.
Smith finished 2-for-4 and also scored a run, while Trent Titus was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run.
It was the performance of several freshmen, however, that helped pave the way to victory.
Tanner Pidgeon and Tristen Titus each had a key base hit, with Pidgeon adding an RBI and also scoring a run.
Fellow freshman Prescott Langer threw four strong innings in relief of starter Parker Prior and helped settle the team down after the shaky start.
“The three freshmen played a big role in today’s game,” Andersen said. “Prescott kept us in the game and kept it tight.”
Prior also had a base hit.
The NCS championship game is tentatively set for next Saturday at Crusader Field, but that could change.