Prott's Squeeze Gives Crabs the Title
The Crabs captured their second straight Far West League championship when Spencer Duggan scored in the 11th inning on Sunday.
The Humboldt Crabs' offense hadn't exactly been bringing the thunder on Sunday. The Neptune Beach Pearl had outhit them 10-4 through 10 innings, so with the potential championship-winning run on third base, head coach Robin Guiver decided to try something different.
Guiver flashed a series of signs. Austin Prott stepped into the box, and when the pitch came, he dropped the bat down and executed a perfect squeeze, allowing Spencer Duggan to slide home and giving the Crabs their second straight Far West League title.
It wasn't an easy bunt either. The pitch came in low, and Prott, being rather tall, had to get way down for it. But he laid it down perfectly, and was promptly mobbed by teammates, who seemed to reach first base nearly as fast as he did.
It was perhaps fitting that this season ended on a squeeze.
"We weren't the team that's going to come up and hit 50 home runs in a season," said Duggan, who after the game was named the team's MVP. "We played some good small ball, had a lot of hit and runs, with clutch base hits."
As he did so many times this season, Duggan set the stage for Prott's heroics. He walked to start off the inning, and then alertly tagged up and took second base on Bradley Zimmer's long flyout to the left-field corner. He moved to third on a Ryan Wiggins single, then scampered home with the winning run on Prott's bunt.
Duggan also opened the scoring in the game, driving in Jared Deacon and Will Soto with a double in the first. But for the most part, the Crabs struggled to generate much offense against Pearl starter Will Anderson, and as a result found themselves trailing 3-2 in the eighth.
But they used more small ball to tie it up. Ryan Dettman singled, and moved to second on a Ty Afenir sacrifice. After a walk and a wild pitch put Crabs on second and third, Soto drove in the tying run on a groundout to second base.
The win capped an impressive championship run and an outstanding season overall. The Crabs were a perfect 3-0 in the tournament, riding a familiar recipe of solid pitching and timely hitting to the title.
On Friday night it was Nick Latta's two-out, two-strike single that gave Tanner McIntyre all he needed in a shutout victory over the Southern Oregon RiverDawgs.
On Saturday, Kyle Swannack and a trio of relievers held the Menlo Park Legends at bay, and five different Crabs drove in their five runs, and in a variety of ways — two homers, a double, a sac fly and a bases-loaded walk.
"There was just good chemistry," said manager Matt Nutter. "One of the most important things in baseball is to have good chemistry, and all the guys got along, they pulled for each other, and 30 guys became one."
So now the 68th season of Crabs baseball is in the books, and it was most certainly a season to remember.
"It was just a pleasure," said Nutter. "One of my favorite things is to watch these guys come together and believe in each other and create some great memories, that 10-20 years down the road they'll still be good friends and have great memories about the 2012 summer."
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