An outstanding year for local youth baseball continued this past weekend with three Humboldt County teams taking first place in their divisions at the Summer Sizzler tournament in Medford.
The tournament was originally scheduled for August but had to be pushed back because of the air quality at the time.
In addition to the 10U Redwood Giants and the 11U Northern Humboldt Steelheads both winning their tournament brackets, the 12U Redwood Giants also took home the championship for their third tournament win of 2023.
“Winning the championship was super exciting,” Giants 12U player Kaiwi Sharp said. “All the hard work and practice our team put in really paid off.”
The Giants won three of their four games in tournament play, opening with a victory over the Junior Falcons (9-5), before falling 3-2 to the Southern Oregon Generals.
After going 1-1 on opening day, they earned the No. 2 seed for Sunday’s playoff rounds.
That set up a rematch against the Generals in the semifinals, which the Giants won 4-3 to advance to the championship game, where they defeated the top-seeded Aces 15-9.
The Giants feature players from Eureka, Fortuna, McKinleyville, Redway and Miranda, and several of them enjoyed a big weekend for the team.
“Hitting that home run was a dream come true,” said Sharp, who also had a double and pitched both wins on Sunday. “I’m happy I could help the team get the win.”
Sharp pitched two hitless innings and struck out four for the win on the mound in the semifinal, and then threw two more innings against the Aces, allowing three earned runs on two hits and four walks and striking out three.
Brody Gaser also pitched in the championship game, and both pitchers had a huge cushion after the Giants sent 15 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored 11 runs.
Jackson Sharp also enjoyed a good weekend for the team and finished 3-for-7 with three RBIs in tournament play, including a pair of home runs and a double.
The young Giants player leads the team with four home runs this season and has turned around his fortunes at the plate after a confidence-boosting performance in Reno during the summer.
“I was struggling at the plate for the last two years but I hit a double in Reno in July and it gave me more confidence stepping into the box,” Jackson Sharp said. “Ever since, I’ve just been trying to hit the ball hard.”
He also pitched 4.1 innings over the weekend, giving up just one unearned run on two hits and three walks and striking out five.
Tyson Mulder also made some noise at the plate and on the mound.
He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run, and got the win on the mound in the tournament opener, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk in two innings and striking out one.
Mikey Shumard, meanwhile, scored four runs in tournament play and was 3-for-5 with four walks, a double and a pair of RBIs, while Jarren Biondini finished 4-for-9 with two doubles and three runs and drove in four runs.
In addition to pitching three strong innings in relief in the final (allowing four earned runs on five hits and two walks and striking out five), Gaser was 4-for-10 in tournament play with a double, a run and two RBIs.
Miles Sirrine also was 3-for-8 with a double, an RBI and two runs, while Mason Long was 3-for-9 with a triple, a double, two RBIs and three runs.
Sirrine also saw some time on the hill, throwing a pair of scoreless innings and allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out two batters.
Reese Sipma, meanwhile, was 2-for-8 with three runs and also pitched three innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and a walk and striking out seven, while Kade Pinochi was 2-for-9 with two runs and pitched 3.1 innings in two different appearances, allowing one earned run on four hits and five walks and also striking out seven.
Rounding out a good weekend for the team, Ryan Tosten was 1-for-8 with a double, a run and an RBI and Kyle Heussler was 1-for-8 with a run.
“We all learned so much this season,” Kaiwi Sharp said. “We had a ton of fun and really came together as a team. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do next year.”
The season is not quite done yet and the Giants will travel for one more tournament, the Turkey Slam in Medford in early November.