Teammates mob Caleb Wood after his diving grab saved an 8-7 victory on Sunday.
ARCATA (July 7) — For a split second off the crack of the bat, it looked like the Humboldt Crabs' ninth inning lead was gone. But with a flash of the leather, Caleb Wood saved the lead, the game, a 3-1 series victory over visiting Top Speed Baseball, and first place in the Far West League.
The Crabs had led Sunday's series finale 8-5 entering the ninth, but after getting a quick first out, Crabs reliever Jacob Coats ran into trouble. First came Jayce Ray's home run, followed by a rally that saw Top Speed score again and load the bases for Matt Owen.
Owen smacked a 2-2 pitch hard up the middle for what looked like a go-ahead, two-run single, but the second baseman Wood leapt to his right, and with full extension, caught the ball mid-air. Then, seemingly in slow motion, he looked up from the ground to see Trent Goodrich standing over him at second, waiting for Wood to toss him the ball for the game-ending double-play.
The sudden end sent a shockwave through the Crabs and the fans, all of whom collectively paused for a brief moment of "Did I really just see that?!?" and then the Arcata Ball Park went wild, celebrating an 8-7 win, the Crabs' third in four games against Top Speed.
The game had been a battle, with the Crabs leading most of the way but never comfortably. Jeremie Fagnan drove in runs with a groundout, a double, and a sac fly, and Nick Minteer, Kyle Moses, Clay Cederquist, Goodrich and Wood all had multi-hit games. Meanwhile, Steven Thompson (2-0) ground his way through five innings of work to earn the win before giving way to the bullpen.
The weekend hadn't gotten off to such a happy start for the home team, as four errors contributed to a 4-3 Crabs loss on Friday night, despite a pair of opposite field home runs, a two-run shot by Sergio Sanchez in the third, and a solo job from Chris Akmon in the sixth.
Cameron Olson's three home runs provided nearly all the Crabs' offense on Saturday.
The Crabs rebounded on Saturday, which was owned by Cameron Olson. He homered three times in two games, driving in five of the Crabs six runs in a 6-2 win in the first game, and then the only run of a 1-0 victory in the nightcap.
Olson's offensive outburst supported outstanding performances by two Crabs pitchers, Chad Hodges and Johnny Melero. Hodges, who is quietly showing himself to be possibly the Crabs' most reliable starter this season, improved to 5-0 on the year with 7 2/3 innings in the opener. Melero followed that up with the 7-inning complete game shutout in the second contest.
Melero's night nearly went down in flames in the sixth, but a pair of nice plays by third baseman Tyler Shannon preserved the Crabs' slim lead. Top Speed had loaded the bases with no outs, But Shannon snagged Neal Jacobs' high chopper and threw home for out number one. The relay to first was not in time, but the next batter, Alex Sortwell, also hit the ball to Shannon. Again Shannon went home, but this time Peter Miller's throw to first just beat Sortwell, ending the inning with no damage done.
Winning the series means the Crabs escape with a half-game lead over Top Speed as the teams jockey for seeding in the FWL tournament. The Crabs will look to stay on top as they welcome the California Warriors to town this week for a rare four-game midweek set from Tuesday to Thursday. The Warriors are one of several teams in a logjam in the middle of the FWL standings, and will be fighting hard to stay afloat. They just took two of three from the Neptune Beach Pearl, though one of the wins didn't count in the league standings.
Tuesday and Thursday's games are at 7 p.m.; Wednesday's doubleheader starts at 5:30. Wednesday is Save Second Base Night, a special night to honor breast cancer research and awareness. Thursday is our annual Cleats for Kids Night, so gather up any old baseball equipment to donate to this great cause!