ARCATA (Aug. 7, 2010) — If you could write the script to a Saturday afternoon at the ballpark, this might be how you'd write it.
On a beautiful warm sunny day before a raucous crowd at the Arcata Ball Park, the Humboldt Crabs broke a scoreless tie in the ninth inning to beat the Redding Colt .45s 1-0 on Saturday to claim the inaugural WCL Tri-State Tournament championship.
David Popkins got the hit that finally broke the seal, poking a single past first base to drive in Ryan Barnes from third base. Barnes had walked to lead off the top of the ninth (the Crabs were the "visiting" team in the game) and advanced to third when Redding first baseman's Aarason Perry threw the ball down the line on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Heylman. Popkins, hitting from the left side, got just enough wood on the ball to squeeze it between Perry and first base, eliciting a huge roar from the crowd that hadn't had much to cheer about for the first eight innings.
That was because Redding starter Brandon Andrieni dominated the Crabs for most of the afternoon. He only allowed one hit over the first seven innings. But Crabs starter John Austin and reliever Jesse Moore matched him zero for zero — with the help of some great defense, most notably a major-league caliber play from Heylman at shortstop in the fifth. Heylman ranged far into the hole to snag a grounder from Andrew Trepel and all in one motion leapt and threw across his body to first, ending the inning and leaving two Colt .45s stranded.
Sidewinder Derrick Dingeman came on in the ninth with the task of locking down the championship. Andrew Lassen hit a one-out single, but Dingeman induced pinch-hitter Matt Alton to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Crabs celebrated by spraying "Champagne" (Cook's sparkling cider) around on the field, and Crabs boardmember Randy "Banana Man" Robertson presented the team with a well-earned championship banner.