Miranda >> The Crusaders weathered immense pressure before simply having a blast — in more ways than one.
After edging South Fork 1-0 in the opener to force a winner-take-all nightcap for the Little 4 title, Colton Stokesberry and Cade McNamara both hit solo bombs to power the St. Bernard’s High baseball team to a 3-2 victory and the coveted crown.
The host Cubs did have one last gasp with two outs, the tying run on second on and do-it-all Troy Langley at the dish in the seventh inning. The speedy senior drove the ball to center field only for a sprinting Warren Freeman to snag the ball on the run.
St. Bernard’s entered the doubleheader trailing South Fork by one game and all the Cubs needed was a split to claim its first league crown in 19 years.
In the end, South Fork is left wondering what could have been.
“We had opportunities and unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize on a few of those,” said South Fork skipper Andy Olsen. “The term is ‘It’s a game of inches’ and Freeman made a hell of a catch. Troy hit the ball and he got there. If that ball drops, tie ball game and Troy is on third … you never know what happens. Give (St. Bernard’s) credit. But I’m damn proud of my boys and the effort they had.”
Logan Thrap’s one-hitter (the no-no broken up by Danny Savoie in the sixth inning) for the Crusaders coupled with six Cubs errors (two very costly in the third inning) set the mood in game one.
In the third frame, McNamara got on base due to an error at the hot corner and, two batters later, an error at first allowed him to score the game’s only run.
The pressure was placed squarely on the Cubs’ shoulders in game two as momentum left their corner.
Garrhett Wiley got the Cubs’ mojo going in the home half of the first inning with a two-out, full-count single up the middle to score Grant Wick from third.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Kaden Law responded with a bases-loaded RBI single off of Wiley in the second to tie the ballgame at 1-all.
That score stood until Stokesberry’s mighty swing in the third inning.
South Fork tied the game in the bottom of the frame as Cole Moody whipped a McNamara pitch into the 5-6 hole to drive in Langley.
The 2-all lull lasted for two more innings.
Both teams now enter next week’s Humboldt-Del Norte Tournament. St. Bernard’s gets a first-round bye while South Fork plays an opponent yet to be determined Tuesday afternoon at the Arcata Ball Park.
Contact Ray Aspuria evenings at 707-441-0527.