The Crabs had a chance to sweep the Redding Colt 45s and win the season series in the Highway 299 rivalry, but couldn't come up with the clutch hit.
by Erik Fraser/Humboldt Crabs
Perhaps the Crabs should have known that it wouldn’t be their day on Sunday when the first Redding Colt 45s batter of the game promptly tripled off the wall and scored on a sacrifice fly, all while wearing a green plastic Hawaiian skirt.
Zak Kutsulis was just trying to get into the spirit of Hawaiian Day at the Arcata Ball Park, and even took the thing off briefly at third base before being prompted but the crowd to put it back on, but the whole odd sight had to be some sort of omen that the baseball gods were on Redding’s side.
How else can you explain Ansel Cecil’s failed attempt to steal home, ending a rally, or Morgan McCasland coming in to pinch hit with the bases loaded, only to hit a 20-foot check swing roller?
The latter scenario came in the seventh inning of a 1-1 game, and the Crabs’ failure to convert immediately proved costly, as Redding took advantage of an error to score twice in the top of the eighth and take the lead for good, winning the finale of the teams’ three-game series 3-1 and spoiling a solid outing by Crabs starter Zach Stone.
“It’s kind of been the tale of the story for Stone,” said manager Tyson Fisher, a somewhat frustrated tone in his voice. “He hasn’t gotten much help in his Sunday starts, and it’s really too bad. It’s a wasted effort from the pitching staff’s side. Our hitters have to be better and we need to be better defensively.”
The Crabs had a chance to sweep the Colt 45s after getting swept themselves by the Pacific Union Financial Capitalists, or PufCaps earlier in the week. A sweep would have given Humboldt a 4-2 victory in the season series of the Highway 299 rivalry, but they came up a clutch hit or two short, something that has burned the team on a few too many occasions this season, and had to settle for a split.
“We played really well Friday and Saturday, so to have the negative ending to the weekend and this week, that’s the frustrating part,” said Fisher.
Friday and Saturday had gone so well, in fact, that the sour taste of being swept by the PufCaps had quickly been forgotten. On Friday, staff ace Andrew Nelson was his usual suffocating self. He shut the Colt 45s down for seven innings to earn his seventh win of the season as the Crabs cruised 4-0.
The Crabs scored all four of their runs in the second, and Trent Goodrich provided the big blow. With the bases loaded and a run already in, Goodrich smacked a ball that curled away from center fielder Kutsulis and into the right field gap. The ball rolled to the wall and all three runners scored.
On Saturday, the Crabs overcame some early errors to run away with a 9-2 win. Redding led 2-1 after four innings, but Humboldt erupted for eight runs over the final four innings, starting as baseball rallies often seem to do, with a bloop double that found space down the right-field line by Brandon Hunley in the fifth.
As it has done all year, the bullpen locked the Colt 45s down after taking over for Jake Shull in the sixth. Casey Rodriguez and Zach Williams each threw two scoreless innings to seal it.
But with a chance to build a three-game winning streak heading into the final week of the season, the Crabs fizzled in the afternoon sun.
“We had opportunities to shut them down today, and really take the wind away from their sails, and we just flat out didn’t do it,” said Fisher. “We had terrible at-bats with runners in scoring position, and it’s frustrating.”
The Crabs will close things out with a midweek two-game series against Valley Bears and then a three-gamer against the Novato Knicks this weekend. The Bears, who came up for a single game earlier in the season, are a last-minute replacement for the Santa Rosa Rose Buds, who had to cancel. Saturday night the team will put an explosive cap on the season with a postgame fireworks show.
• Watch Sunday night's Crabs Corner, click here.
• Read up on all the Crabs games from the daily newspaper in town, the Times-Standard.
• Read Nate Abaureea's article from the Redding Searchlight.
• View all our photos from the weekend our Facebook page.
• Each week we'll have a new player supplement inside the Crabs program for sale at the ball park with scorecards, new player photos, special events, social media info and a week wrap up story by Erik Fraser. There is also a Crabs Kid's program available that comes with crayons for your little crabbie.