By Ray Hamill — When 2023 Eureka High graduate Myles Standish made his first appearance of the summer last weekend, he became the sixth local player to play for the Humboldt Crabs this year.
That’s a good sized local contingent and all six players made an impact this summer, including two who are coming off long injury layoffs and have quickly found their feet.
In addition to Standish, this year’s Crabs team also featured St. Bernard’s graduates Garrison Finck and Caleb Ruiz, Arcata’s Merek Sears, McKinleyville’s Cameron Saso and Jackson Giacone of Eureka.
After missing most of the 2023 high school season through injury, Standish has been patiently waiting to see if he could return in time to debut this summer with the Crabs, who had signed him to play for the team before the injury setback.
Last weekend, against the Fresno A’s, he finally got his opportunity with one inning of relief work, and he followed that with a second inning in relief in a 6-1 win over the Sacramento Yankees on Friday night.
“He looked pretty good in that first game, and he looked better (on Friday),” Crabs manager Robin Guiver said. “I think it’s going to be a gradual thing for him to build his arm strength back up.”
Arguably the best pitcher of this year’s H-DNL class, Standish has allowed two hits and a walk in two scoreless innings with the Crabs, while also striking out five.
He could see more action out of the bullpen in Sunday’s season finale against the Yankees.
“He said he’s fine if we needed him,” Guiver said. “He looked good, and he’s been a great teammate.”
Giacone is another local player who is coming off a long injury layoff and returned to action earlier this summer for the first time since last fall.
The Cal State Fullerton player is in his second summer with the Crabs and has appeared in 21 games, batting .200 with 15 walks in 93 plate appearances.
“Where he is right now is way further along than where he was at the start of the summer,” Guiver said of the 2022 Eureka graduate. “His confidence is up and he’s starting to trust his body again. He’s showing the type of player he is. I think it’s going to be a good way to send him off.”
Ruiz, meanwhile, is the only third-year player on the team this summer and also has had an impact while overcoming some adversity.
He had his best outing of the summer in an 8-4 win over Seals Baseball on Tuesday.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen him throw this year,” Guiver said of the 2019 SB graduate who threw seven scoreless innings for the win, allowing just three hits and two walks and striking out eight. “I think he was a little bit tired (this summer). He threw a lot in school. And he missed some time this summer.
“He threw out of the pen for us and waited for his opportunity to start, and boy was he ready.”
Like Standish and Giacone, Ruiz will head back to college riding a wave of momentum.
“He was in command of everything,” said Guiver, who described the performance as an A-plus. “He looked like the Caleb I’ve seen the last few years. And it’s the right time of the year to be doing it.”
Finck gave his coaches some versatility on a pitching staff that was one of the team’s strengths this summer, starting three games and making seven appearances out of the bullpen.
The 2018 St. Bernard’s graduate is 3-0 with one save in one save opportunity and he has an ERA of 2.84 in 31.2 innings.
Like Ruiz, he is also coming off one of his best games of the season in his final appearance of the summer against the Yankees on Friday night.
Finck threw six innings for the victory, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk and striking out five.
“He pitched great,” Guiver said. “He kept us in a tight game and he pitched out of some jams.”
In his second season with the Crabs, Finck has become one of the team’s most reliable and consistent arms and a pitcher that never seems to lose his composure.
“He’s a strike thrower that we can rely on,” Guiver said.
Sears, meanwhile, saw just limited opportunities in his first year at the University of Houston this past spring, which may have fueled his competitive spirit this summer.
“He came in and he was hungry,” the manager said of the Ferndale native who graduated from Arcata in 2020.
Sears became a regular midweek starter for the Crabs before returning to Houston 10 days ago and also was one of the team’s most consistent arms in his second season with the club.
He finished the summer 4-0 in seven starts and allowed 37 hits in 41.1 innings while striking out 38 and walking eight.
He had an ERA of 2.39.
Sears also featured in one of the games of the summer, throwing 8.1 innings for a no decision in a 6-5 road loss against the Walnut Crawdads in June.
“He threw great in that game, and that was probably the game of the year,” said Guiver, who feels he pulled him too soon as the home team rallied with five late runs for the come-from-behind win. “That was probably the best hitting team we saw all year and he did great against them.
“He was very good for us all summer. We were happy to have him.”
Rounding out the contingent of local players this summer, Saso enjoyed a second summer as a two-way player with the Crabs.
He saw his role change this year, as he featured more as a starting pitcher and less out of the bullpen and as a shortstop.
Saso, who recently announced he will play for Division-II Colorado State University Pueblo in 2024, heads into his final start of the summer on Saturday night with a record of 7-2 in nine starts.
The 2020 Mack High graduate has thrown a team-high 50 innings with an ERA of 2.16 and has allowed 49 hits and struck out 47.
“He became one of our weekend starters and he pitched good for us all summer,” his manager said.
Saso also made an impact in limited appearances at the plate, including a key base hit this week against the Seals to kickstart his teammates in a game in which they were trailing.
“He put together some good at-bats and he has a very good arm defensively, which translates to the mound,” Guiver said.
The Crabs, who are 38-7 heading into a Saturday night game, close out the season against the Yankees on Sunday, with first pitch set for 12:30 p.m.