The McKinleyville High baseball team made a bit of history on Saturday afternoon, winning the Fort Bragg Tournament championship in Fort Bragg for the first time since 1995.
McKinleyville pulled off a late-game comeback to beat Fort Bragg 5-4 after trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the fifth.
“It was one of the best — probably the best — game I’ve been in since I got here,” McKinleyville’s second-year head coach Scott St. John said. “What a great win for our boys; I’m so proud of how they competed this weekend.”
McKinleyville (5-0) and Fort Bragg ended the first inning knotted in a 1-1 tie. After three complete scoreless innings, Fort Bragg scored three runs in the top of the fifth to pull ahead 4-1.
Big bottom-of-the-inning hits by Corbin Eichin, Lance Lally, Regan Wolfe and Kyler Carr reversed their team’s deficit in a hurry as McKinleyville stormed back to take a 5-4 lead heading into the top of the sixth.
Jack Patton, a junior, came in at pitcher in relief of starter Cameron Saso in the bottom of the sixth with a 1-run lead and the game in his hands.
He threw two shutout innings to end McKinleyville’s 23-year Fort Bragg tourney championship-drought.
“I put (Patton) in a big-pressure spot that he’s not all that used to,” St. John said. “He did so great. To come into a game in that spot and deliver is huge.”
McKinleyville advanced to Saturday’s tournament championship with a 10-0 win over Esparto earlier in the day. Carr pitched all six innings of that game, throwing a shutout while doing so.
The 1995 McKinleyville team, which last won the Fort Bragg tourney, went on to win a Big 5 Conference title and a North Coast Section championship. Oh yeah, and Corbin Eichin’s father, Eric Eichin, was on that team — a squad which now sits in the McKinleyville High Hall Of Fame.