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Winning an elimination game is hard.

Winning back-to-back elimination games — against the two top teams from the Southern Region — is what the Northern Humboldt Giants 17-U did Saturday in Yountville at the American Legion State Tournament.

And the club did it with just nine players, setting up an all-Humboldt County state championship today as the Giants will face the Humboldt Eagles 17-U.

“These guys are so gutsy,” Giants head coach Todd Bates said. “We had our backs against the wall. But I think these guys love that, and they came out and just played ball today.”

Over an almost 7-hour stretch amid 85 degree weather in Yountville the Giants won back-to-back elimination games to pave a road to today’s championship round. The Giants started the day with a 9-3 win over Pomona and ended it with a 9-5 win over Chino Hills— the same club which 10-run-ruled the Giants in a 12-1 thrashing on Friday.

In the extra-innings win against Chino Hills it was Jake Reeser and Will Mager who proved to be the difference offensively for the Giants. In the top of the ninth inning Reeser drove in two with a single to short stop and a few batters later Mager put the Giants up four with a 2RBI double.

On the mound Kyler Carr delivered six innings of solid pitching, keeping a Chino Hills team which boat-raced the Giants on Friday to five runs on double the hits.

Kaden Ritter closed out the final three innings of the contest and earned the win, giving up zero runs on two hits.

In the bottom of the eighth Chino Hills’ lead-off batter hit a triple to put the pressure on the Giants, who subsequently loaded up the bases in hopes of getting a few quick outs and avoiding a loss.

The strategy worked as the Giants kept Chino Hills in check and the scored tied at five.

In the early-game win over Pomona it was Victor Agliolo who shined on the mound for the Giants. The Arcata High player tossed a complete game, giving up three runs, all earned, on six hits. He also struck out three batters.

Cayden Lee had three hits and a pair of RBIs in the win while Carr had two hits and three RBIs.

The Giants will play a familiar foe today in the Eagles, who have matched up against the Giants seven times on the summer thus far.

In both the District Tournament and the Area Tournament, the Eagles clashed with the Giants. In the district tourney it was the Giants who downed the Eagles twice in a row to capture the title while the Eagles beat the Giants a week ago to capture the area tourney crown.

On the summer the Giants are 2-5 against the Eagles.

No matter what, the Legion crown will come to Humboldt after today’s final round — and that’s a something Bates knows goes beyond who wins and loses today in Yountville.

“That future of baseball in Humboldt is strong,” Bates said.

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