Bryce Kirk’s sixth inning 3-run home run gave the home team its first lead of the night and proved the be the difference in an otherwise closely played ball game as the Humboldt Crabs earned a 4-1 win over the visiting Humboldt B52s, Tuesday night at the Arcata Ball Park.
Kirk’s lead-taking home run was made possible in part by one of four B52s errors on the night. With two outs already recorded B52s catcher Matt Mascio let a throw-down to second base — a throw which if it had been on target may have ended the inning — get a tad low as it sailed past second baseman Spencer Duggan, allowing the Crabs’ Damian Henderson to steal second base and safely reach third. The following batter, Ryan Higgins, worked his way to a walk to load two men on.
Then Kirk stepped to the plate, and for the third time in two games and the sixth time this summer the University of the Pacific man sent one deep.
But before Kirk grounded the B52s, the visitors were playing the Crabs closer than most during their now 10-game winning streak.
B52s lead-off batter Eric Smelko did his job well Tuesday night, sending a line drive into the furthest depths of left-center field for a triple on the first at-bat of the contest in the first inning.
The B52s capitalized quickly as the following batter and former Crab himself, Duggan, singled to left field, scoring Smelko for a 1-0 lead.
The Crabs evened up Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning thanks to a Kyle Knell solo home run which barely cleared the left field wall, needing a home-team bounce off the top of the fence to clear the ball park. The homer counted as Knell’s second of the season. On the summer the Crabs have 31 home runs as a team — they had 22 total in 2018.
The B52s had a momentary look at tying the ball game in the top of the eighth after Cody Banks walked and Tommy Gale singled to load two men on with two outs. The ensuing B52s batter after Gale, Braeden Holliday, struck out for the fourth time on the night, ending the inning and the visitors’ last best hope to put a few more runs on the board.
Tyler Condie (4-3) got his eighth start of the summer at pitcher for the Crabs and picked up his fourth win, going seven full innings and although he gave up eight hits the San Joaquin Delta man allowed just one run off them while striking out nine. Dalton Smith closed out the final two innings for the Crabs and gave up no runs on one hit, two walks and four strikeouts.
Cade Sheets started at pitcher for the B52s and, despite walking four batters and seeing a few more reach base off of assorted errors, tossed a 2-hitter and gave up just one run through five innings of work. Ryan Rivera relieved Sheets in the sixth and gave up one hit, Kirk’s bomb, in the frame and went on to take the loss. Jordan Forrester came on for the B52s in the seventh and kept the Crabs off the scoreboard. Gale pitched the eighth for the visitors and had his slider working well, recording strikeouts for all three outs in the frame.
The B52s out-hit the Crabs 9-5, but the Crabs remained error-free while the visitors had four timely errors in the loss.
Other than Knell’s and Kirk’s home runs, the Crabs had little in the way of offense on Tuesday. No batter had more than one hit while Kirk, as one would expect, led the team in RBIs with three.
The B52s batters — Mascio, Smelko and Cole Harper — had two hits a piece. Duggan was the lone Bomber to record an RBI while Smelko had the most total bases, five, thanks to his double and triple in the loss.
With Tuesday’s win the Crabs stay undefeated against the B52s this summer at 3-0. The Crabs beat the B52s 15-1 and 12-9 back on June 25 and 26. The two clubs will meet again for the final two legs of their 5-game season series on July 30 and 31. The July 30 game will be played at Bomber Field — marking the first time the Crabs will have been the away team when playing the B52s — while the July 31 contest will be held at the Arcata Ball Park.
The Crabs (27-13) will take on the Redding Ringtails tonight at 7 p.m. at the Arcata Ball Park while the B52s (22-12) will enjoy a few days off before welcoming the Fairfield Indians for a 3-game series beginning Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Bomber Field.