The throng of young fans joyfully descending on home plate for the traditional Sunday postgame run around the bases after a sweep of the visiting California Expos on a sunny but breezy afternoon was a stark but satisfying contrast to the way the week had started for the Humboldt Crabs.
A steady-but-not-heavy rain clearly impacted the attendance of the anticipated matchup between the Crabs and the Humboldt B52s on Wednesday, and the Crabs’ performance was as dreary as the weather in a 6-1 loss. Former Crab Ruben Rios tossed a gem, keeping Crabs hitters off balance all night, and Kokko Figueiredo whacked a three-run homer in the fourth.
“We didn’t play very well,” said manager Robin Guiver. “We made errors, and the 52s are a good team and they beat us. They were fired up and we were a little flat, the rain all day was kind of weird, but we tip the cap to them they played well, we threw the ball around and didn’t play well, and they beat us from the first inning to the ninth inning.”
But as Guiver noted, there’s still a lot of season ahead, and the Crabs quickly put the loss behind them.
“That was Wednesday, and we got the sweep this weekend,” he said, “and we have a big week coming up with the Studs and the Blues coming in, six games in a row starting Tuesday, so that’s long in the past now, we’re looking forward for sure.”
The weather was better on Friday, and so was the Crabs’ effort as they beat the Expos 6-3 in the opener of a three-game series.
Despite being outhit on the night, they held a 6-1 lead after four largely on Devin Lehman’s three-run double. That was plenty of support for Andrew Najeeb-Brush, who struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings to earn his first win as a Crab.
The rain returned again Saturday night, but only for about 20 minutes, and it couldn’t put out the fire in Crabs starter Jeffrey Kersten. He hit the double-digit mark in strikeouts in his eight innings, and held an opponent to one run for the second straight time out – a decent start to his Crabs career, to say the least.
“Jeffrey’s a good pitcher,” said Guiver. “He’s loose on the mound, loose arm action, good curveball, throws the changeup well and he throws strikes, and he’s confident, He’s a bulldog out there. I knew he’d be good for us all summer, and he’ll be bulldog for us all summer.”
Kersten, for his part, credited the defense for keeping him in his groove as the game progressed.
“It’s pretty easy to pitch well when you’ve got good defense behind you, making plays to get you back in, quick innings,” he said.
The Crabs ended up needing every ounce of Kersten’s effort. Expos starter Rickie Garcia was stellar in his own right, outduelling Kersten through six innings and the visitors led 1-0. But the Crabs finally got to Garcia in the seventh.
Jeremiah Burks led off with a triple, and Ryan Myers promptly doubled him in. Four batters later, Myers scored on a wild pitch for what ultimately proved to be the game-winning run.
“I had a feeling that we would come through,” said Kersten, “especially the way we’d been playing all night, I knew the bats will come around too.”
Just two starts in, Kersten already knows this summer is going to be something special.
“Funnest time of my life,” he said. “Two weeks feels like I’ve already been with these guys for two years. It’s just a really good family atmosphere out here, especially the fans, good fan base, kids running around the whole time, it’s really fun out here.”
Sunday produced more of those good times, as the team ended the week on a high note. After spotting the Expos three runs in the top of the first, the Crabs answered with eight in the bottom of the frame. It was back and forth after that, but the Crabs never relinquished the lead, eventually winning 15-11.
The team pounded out 13 hits, withe every starter getting at least one. Jack Krauel did the heavy damage, driving in a game-high four runs.
There’s lots of action this week at the Arcata Ball Park with games every night against two high-quality, storied franchises in the San Luis Obispo Blues here during the week, and the Seattle Studs coming in for the the weekend.
Special events and promotions:
• June 17: 2:30pm game. Advanced Security Giveaway Day! Free seat cushions to the first 400 fans. Note: Limited parking due to the Oyster Festival on the Arcata Plaza. Shuttles available at HSU Parking lot.
• June 18: Father's Day (limited seating) Sponsored by Pierson Building Center. Win all kinds of free hardware stuff. More than $800 worth of giveaways and prizes for some lucky fans.
• Check out Crabs Corner every Sunday at 6pm on KIEM News Ch. 3 under Sports.
• Listen to North Coast Game Night / ESPN raddio on KATA 1340 AM, 92.7 FM every Monday starting at 4pm. Live broadcast from Six Rivers Brewery. JB Mathers and Tag Wotherspoon interview the Crabs players all summer long.
• Watch all the Crabs games on the Humboldt Crabs You Tube Channel.
• Check out the Crabs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.