No-Hitter Helps Crabs Snap Brief Skid

Things hadn't been going well lately for the Humboldt Crabs. They'd lost to their local rivals the Steelheads on Friday. They'd dropped both games in a doubleheader on Saturday. Sunday's opponent backed out, leaving the team and its fans hanging. The team needed a pick-me-up.

How about a no-hitter before a packed house on a beautiful sunny Fourth of July to get things back on track?

That's exactly what college teammates Kyle Crawford and Peter Miller combined to give the Crabs on Monday as they beat the Santa Rosa Gnats 8-1 to snap a three-game skid and send the crowd of 1,446 home happy on this holiday.

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"It's kind of funny, it was kind of a UOP win day," said Crawford. "(Miller's) my teammate at University of Pacific, and we're kind of the same pitching. We both throw a lot of off-speed, throw strikes. It was kind of a fun thing."

Although his stats looked great on this day, Crawford admitted that he had to battle.

"It was kind of a mental day for me," he said. "Physically my body wasn't really doing what I wanted it to, so I kind of had to fight through it mentally. I was just trying to throw stikes and keep our team in it so we had a chance to win coming off the three-game losing streak, and thankfully our hitters today just came out blasting. As a pitcher that makes you feel so much more confident."

Indeed, the offense that had been struggling came up big to make sure the pitchers' effort wasn't wasted. The Crabs pounded out 15 hits against the Gnats, scoring early and often.

Leadoff man Ivory Thomas led the charge, scoring without the benefit of a hit in the first. He was hit by a pitch, stole second and third, then scored when the Gnats' catcher's throw to third sailed into the outfield. Thomas would also drive in two runs in the Crabs' three-run fifth as they started to pull away.

The home team got contributions from up and down the lineup. Bryndon Ecklund, hitting in the ninth spot, led the way with three hits. Brett MorganDavid Del GrandeNick Latta and Kyle Cerrudo each chipped in two knocks.

"This was a good way to rebound," said Manager Matt Nutter. "We got the bats going, everybody swung it."

While acknowledging that "the mood was really down" after the Crabs had lost both ends of their doubleheader Saturday against the Solano Blue Birds, he was encouraged by the team's commitment going forward.

"The guys came out yesterday on the day off and a lot of them hit, so that right there shows me something," Nutter said.

The team will need its collective head in the right place, as the next few weeks represent the meat of their Far West League schedule. They start with a three-game series against the Atwater Aviators beginning Tuesday night at 7 p.m.