ARCATA (Aug. 3, 2015) — What else is there to say but, “Wow”?
An unforgettable 2015 season of Humboldt Crabs baseball is now officially in the books, and what a season it was. The Crabs finished with a stellar 41-9 record, and put the icing on their tasty cake by rolling to the championship of the inaugural Humboldt Invitational Tournament with a perfect 5-0 record.
“This team, they’re just outstanding, said a tired-but-beaming Tyson Fisher after the final out was recorded. “What they’ve done this summer is truly remarkable. You set goals and this team took those goals seriously.”
One of those goals was to finish the season with fewer than 10 losses, and that goal seemed in serious jeopardy when the team suffered its seventh loss on July 5. But the team reeled off a 21-2 run to end the season and accomplished the impressive feat.
“They know what it takes,” said Fisher. “The way that they approached the game here every single day, it’s awesome what they accomplished this summer. We had a solid group of guys that we could count on each and every day they were in the lineup to give us their best.”
And perhaps they were at their very best during the tournament run. The Crabs opened up the tournament against the Pacific Union Financial Capitalists, aka the Pufcaps, a powerful young team that had beaten the Crabs twice in 2014.
The Pufcaps jumped out to an early lead 3-0 lead, but the Crabs, as they’ve proven all year, had no issues playing from behind. They got on the board when big Bobby Schuman uncorked his first – but not his last – homer of the season in the fourth.
They added two more runs in the sixth but were still trailing 4-3 heading into the eighth. That changed quickly when Allen Smoot doubled and Ben Petersen hammered a towering shot onto U.S. 101 to give the Crabs their first lead of the game.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Pufcaps answered with a tying home run in the bottom of the frame, sending the game into extra innings.
In the 11th inning the Pufcaps got generous, giving the Crabs the gift of two errors, and they took advantage, scoring four times to build a 9-5 lead. That was enough to survive a Pufcaps rally in the bottom half, and the Crabs hung on for a hard-earned 9-7 win.
The Crabs cruised through the rest of round-robin play on Friday and Saturday, getting stellar starting pitching from Tyler Bennett, who struck out a season-high 14 batters in eight innings in a 13-1 victory over the Solano Mudcats on Friday, and Donald Robinson, who shut down the Auburn Wildcats for seven innings in a 6-0 win on Saturday. Oh, and Schuman homered both Friday and Saturday, and Smoot extended his hitting streak to 31 games.
That earned the Crabs the top seed going into Sunday’s elimination portion of the tournament. And the first “victory” for the Crabs on Sunday came before they even took the field, as the Pufcaps, widely expected to breeze past the Wildcats in their 2-3 matchup, were completely stifled by Auburn pitcher Jacob Call, managing only an unearned run in a 3-1 loss.
The Crabs then took the field against the Mudcats, and once again, stellar starting pitching led the way. Justin Mullins threw a complete game in his final start of the summer to earn his fifth win and set up a championship showdown with Auburn.
In the finale, Fisher handed the ball to their ace and Pitcher of the Year, Drew Weston. And as usual, Weston dominated, allowing just one run over seven innings. The offense, meanwhile, did its thing, scoring four runs in the fifth and five in the sixth to break open the game and put the place into party mode. Perhaps the only thing that went wrong all day was the end of Smoot’s amazing hitting streak when he put up an 0-fer in the first game.
But all that did was give the crowd a chance to stand and acknowledge the season for the ages that Smoot had in Humboldt. He set all-time Crabs records with 85 hits, 57 RBIs and 27 doubles, and batted .447, making the decision to give him the MVP award possibly the easiest in Fisher’s baseball career.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Fisher said of Smoot’s season. “The guy was just unreal all summer long. I’ve never seen a hit streak like that, never seen a summer like that, never seen a season like that, period. Not only is this team one of the greatest in Crabs history, I feel like, but Smoot has definitely had one of the best summers in Crabs history, there’s no doubt about it.”
Once the game was over and the dog pile on the infield had been untangled, all that was left was awards and goodbyes. As mentioned above, Smoot was MVP and Weston was the Pitcher of the Year. The other award, the Heinig/Morsching Memorial Coaches’ Award, was shared by Blake Edmonson, who played both pitcher and outfield, and Beau Bozett, the second-year leadoff hitter who sparked the Crabs’ offense all year long both on the field and with his infectious enthusiasm in the dugout.
And so Season 71 is done, and it was a season that will be remembered forever by the Crabs family. See you next year!
• Tournament Wrap Up by Danny Penza of the Times-Standard Sports Depart, click here.
• Mad River Union Sports, click here.