The Humboldt Crabs have gotten off to a flying start to their 2021 campaign, winning six straight games following their season opening loss.
The Crabs took both games of a two-game series against the Bay Area Force on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Manny Casillas got the start for the home team on Tuesday and put in an impressive outing for his first start of the season, putting up 11 strikeouts and giving up just two hits in six innings of work.
The freshman out of Mt. San Antonio College, combined with fellow pitchers Cade Van Allen and Chad Wilson to shut out the visitors 3-0, giving up just four hits on the night as a team.
“I felt comfortable,” Casillas said after Wednesday’s game. “ It felt good to play in front of the Crabs fans and them chirping the other team, it was fun. The team backed me up with plays. The defense was there so it was good.”
Casillas also made sure fans wouldn't forget about him on Wednesday when Crabs Manager Robin Guiver put him in as the designated hitter. Casilla went two for four including a double with two RBI's in the 7-4 winning effort over the visiting Force in a game that saw a combined nine errors between both teams.
“No one thinks I’m a two-way but, yeah, I am a two-way,” Casillas said. “I play first, I play some outfield, but my primary position would be pitcher. But I also hit.”
While the Crabs maintained their record of beating opponents after opening night over the weekend, the weather would have its say in complicating matters for their series against the Seals Baseball team who made the trip up from San Francisco. Friday night’s scheduled game was rained out as the field was soaked even before gates opened. As a result, the Crabs and Seals played a doubleheader on Saturday to make up for the lost game.
The Crabs took the first game of the series 3-1, surging late in the game by scoring in the sixth inning to tie the game on a single by infielder Josh Lauck, after trailing 0-1 for the first five innings. They would go on to score on an error in the seventh to take the lead and hold on for the win.
In the second game of Saturday’s set, the Crabs played a tight game against the Seals up until the eighth inning where the Crabs managed to swell their one-run lead to a seven-run gap to the visitors and win 9-2. The team showed their patience in the batter’s box to great benefit, drawing 11 walks in the game between all three Seals pitchers and scoring on walks with bases loaded multiple times.
The Crabs were also bolstered between games with the arrival of infielder David Morgan who spent his collegiate season playing for Orange Coast College and is committed to play for Kansas State next year. Morgan, who suited up for his first game for the Crabs on Saturday, arrived in town at about 4:30 p.m. just two and a half hours before the first pitch.
“I didn’t know anyone,” Morgan said after Saturday's second game. “I got here and I recognized a kid I played in high school. That was the only face I knew from this team, though. Just rolled in, didn’t know anybody and got to work.”
Morgan certainly made an impact in his first game wearing a Crabs uniform as he tallied a hit, a run, and RBI and was walked twice in the game as well as made a couple of slick plays from third base including an impressive throw across the infield to gun down Seals batter George Christian after scooping up the ground ball on his backhand. That was just one of several moments that seemed to make Morgan an instant favorite among the Arcata Ballpark faithful with one fan shouting it out the next time he was up to bat.
Despite the late arrival and quick turnaround, Morgan was quietly confident about his game and the way he played, knowing that he had his experience to lean on even being so new to a team.
“It’s just baseball at the end of the day with a different team,” Morgan said. “I’ve been doing it for 20 years now, so same thing every day. Sleep good, eat well, get on the field and get ready.”
Unfortunately, Sunday’s game was rained out as well in the first inning, resulting in a no-decision that leaves the Crabs with a record of 6-1 after the weekend. For Pitching Coach Eric Giacone, he has overall been happy with how things have been going so at this early stage of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that throw strikes,” Giacone said after Saturday’s games. “A lot of guys that attack the strike zone. Multiple pitches, they’re just forcing their [opponent’s] team to get hits and so far done really well.”
The rainout from Friday didn’t concern the Crabs coaching staff, who were glad to have gotten the games in on Saturday and come away with the wins that they did take from the weekend.
“We had a pretty good backup plan for it,” Giacone said. “Didn’t really change anything as far as our pitching goes. Our hitters actually probably liked it because they got a ton of at-bats in a day. Which usually you don’t get to go to the plate 10 to 11 times in a day. Makes for a long day but we got them in and we got two wins and that’s really all that matters.”