There was drama of just about every kind at the Arcata Ballpark on Saturday — a walkoff win, a late rally that came up just short, and even a bench-clearing almost-brawl.
When the day was final over, Top Speed Baseball sat in in the driver's seat of the Far West Championship as the sole team left without a loss, and the Humboldt Crabs had extended their season to by at least one more game, surviving both a late push by the California Warriors, and a little pushing and shoving after tempers flared in the sixth inning.
Looking to shake off Friday's loss to the Menlo Park Legends, the Crabs burst out of the gate against the Warriors, reeling off three straight run-scoring singles in the first inning and another in the second for an early four-run lead.
The Warriors had pulled two within two runs against Crabs ace Chad Hodges, but Nick Minteer helped make sure Hodges ended the season a perfect 7-0 when he doubled one on and two out in the fifth, scoring Clay Cederquist and Trent Goodrich to restore the four-run lead.
Things got a bit heated in the sixth, when the Warriors' Michael Peterson threw two pitches to the backstop against Sergio Sanchez. Sanchez glared at Peterson after the second offering, and when Peterson's next pitch plunked Sanchez, Sanchez flung his bat toward the mound. Both benches quickly cleared, but nothing really came of the ruckus.
The Warriors chased Hodges in the eighth, and managed to score two more runs against reliever Thomas Cortese, but Cortese settled down and locked down the 6-4 win.
In the early game, the Legends held a 2-0 lead in the sixth against Top Speed, but that lead was quickly and loudly erased by Tyler Mautner, who absolutely crushed a ball on to Highway 101 with a man on. That score held until the ninth inning, when Top Speed leadoff man Bo Walter drew a two-out walk, then scampered around the bases on a double down the left-field line by Matt Owen, sliding head-first across the plate just ahead of the throw home.
The Crabs and Legends will open Sunday's action at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to face the waiting Top Speed squad. Top Speed has a big advantage, with their opponent having to beat them twice to win the title.