If the first two meetings between the St. Bernard’s and Ferndale baseball teams predicted anything, it was that the final two regular season meetings between the Little 4 Conference cohorts would be tight — and were they ever.
St. Bernard’s pulled out narrow wins in the first two meetings between the teams this season but on Saturday in Wildcat territory, Austin Hughes and Ferndale took their first from the Crusaders on the year, winning 3-2, before Caleb Ruiz led St. Bernard’s to a 1-0 extra-innings win in the night cap of Saturday’s doubleheader at Ferndale High.
St. Bernard’s jumped out to an early game one lead behind RBIs from Hunter Davis and Bode Joyner in the top of the first inning.
It would, however, be the only two runs St. Bernard’s scored in the loss.
Fast forward to the bottom of the third inning and, down 2-1, Ferndale’s Landon Gomes connected on what would prove to be the game-winning hit — a 2RBI single which put Ferndale ahead 3-2, and for good.
Ferndale’s Austin Hughes started at pitcher in game one and got the win for his complete-game performance. Hughes allowed two runs on three hits, five strikeouts and one walk.
For St. Bernard’s, Joyner got the start at pitcher and made it through four innings, during which he gave up three runs on five hits and five strikeouts, before being relieved by Nick Dugan who finished out the game without allowing another run.
Game two belonged to Ruiz.
The senior pitched seven-and-two-thirds shutout innings, striking out 15 and allowing just three hits, to blank the home team en route to the win.
The game, a scoreless affair throughout regulation, entered extra innings knotted at 0-0.
So Ruiz decided to handle the offensive end as well, connecting on a game-winning RBI single which scored Braedan Zimmerman to give St. Bernard’s a 1-0 victory.
“Ruiz has been absolutely dominant this season,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “He deserves everything he has achieved because he works so hard year round to be the best player that he can be.”
Despite the loss, Gomes put together a dominant day of pitching as well in game two. Gomes lasted seven-and-two thirds innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits, six strikeouts and four walks.
“Credit to the pitching today, for both teams,” Ferndale head coach Justin Anderson said. “It’s always fun watching Gomes and Ruiz go against each other. It’s a challenge Gomes embraces.”
Gomes and Ruiz battled in the first meeting of the year between the two teams and, similarly, St. Bernard’s won that March 12 game by a 1-0 score — the lone run coming as an unearned one for St. Bernard’s. Furthermore, the winning run on March 12 was scored by Zimmerman.
“We’re getting closer and closer every day to where we want to be,” Anderson said.
With Saturday’s split St. Bernard’s moves to 13-5 overall and 6-2 in Little 4 play as it now sits tied with South Fork (6-2, 10-3) atop the conference standings. The two will meet on Saturday for a doubleheader in Eureka which will go a long way towards determining which club wins a regular season conference championship. For Ferndale, a doubleheader at home against Hoopa on Saturday awaits.