A hard-earned victory for Crabs

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR Crab Jackson Kritsch thwarts an attempted steal of second base during Sunday’s game against the Seattle Studs. Matt Filar | Union

Erik Fraser
Humboldt Crabs

ARCATA – Ask any baseball player, and they’ll tell you that the last thing you want on getaway day on the road is to go into extra innings. You want a quick game so you can get on the road and head home.

But you don’t always get what you want.

After breezing to an 8-1 win in the first of two games against the Colt 45s at Tiger Field in Redding, the Crabs seemed on their way to a sweep, leading 5-3 in the eighth. But with one on and no outs, the 45s’ Daniel Duerte mashed a game-tying homer, leading to a marathon game that wouldn’t end until after 1 a.m.

The teams traded rallies in the 10th, with each scoring twice, but that was it for a while. A long while. It wasn’t until the top of the 20th — twentieth! — inning that anyone from either team would cross the plate again.

Barry Smith threw out the first pitch. Matt Filar | Union

Fittingly, it was McCarthy Tatum who started the rally with a leadoff triple — his sixth hit in nine at-bats on the evening. (Is it still an evening at 1 a.m.?) Chase Larsen followed with a single to drive in Tatum, and then scored himself three batters later on a double by Jackson Kritsch for the final run of a hard-earned 9-7 victory.

Eighteen hours later, the Crabs found themselves back on this side of the 299 corridor, facing another longtime rival, the Seattle Studs. All three games against the Studs were close ones, but the visitors took two out of three, handing the Crabs their first series loss of the young season.

“It was a good series,” said manager Robin Guiver after Sunday’s game, a shutout loss in which Studs starter Alex Spahman went the distance and allowed just two hits. “We split the first two and then their guy just pitched his tail off today. … We pitched pretty well today, just didn’t hit.”

The teams had split the first two games of the series. On Friday night, the Crabs sent Alex Pham to the hill, dueling against Seattle’s Mitchel Viydo. Both pitchers were solid, and the game was tied 1-1 after six innings. But the Studs’ Brennan Hancock knocked in two runs in the seventh, and the Crabs could only manage one run in their half of the inning and they dropped the game 3-2.

On Saturday, the Crabs looked on their way to a relatively easy win, carrying a 6-2 lead into the ninth. Jared Milch and Kenton Carruthers had both pitched well, and the Crabs had gotten some timely hits in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring twice in each frame.

But Tatum — yes, the same Tatum who’d had six hits on Thursday — took the mound in the ninth, and couldn’t put the Studs away. The visitors scored four times, sending the game into extra innings.

Tatum had the last laugh though, because even though he had been removed from the mound in the ninth, he was still in the lineup. He singled to lead off the 11th, and ultimately came around to score the winning run when the Studs threw the ball away on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Santiago Cantu.

Sunday’s game saw Spahman outduel Crabs ambidextrous starter Alex Trautner, who despite warming up both arms, pitched exclusively with his right one during the game.

Though it had been a long week, Guiver refused to blame that for his team’s two-hit effort on Father’s Day, preferring instead to heap praise on the Crabs’ opponent.

“He did good,” Guiver said of Spahman. “I know we’re tired as a team right now, and it will be nice to have a day off tomorrow. It was kind of a wild road trip to Redding, a lot happened in those two days — the bus broke down, a 20-inning game — but no excuses, that’s baseball. They drove from Seattle to come down and play us, so you tip the cap to them, and we’ll get a day off and regroup and get ready to go to Healdsburg.”

The Crabs now head out on their last road trip of the year, a trek that will take them to Healdsburg and San Luis Obispo. Their next home game is Tuesday, June 26 against the Humboldt B52s.



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