Coming off of a road trip where the team struggled to find wins, the Humboldt Crabs have been blasting their way to wins with strong offense ever since returning to Arcata Ballpark.
The Crabs dropped each game on the road, but since coming back have won every game they've played in, racking up 67 runs in just six games by the end of the Fourth of July. The wins have been coming in blowouts and close contests and according to Crabs player Jordan Petrushka, losing some games on the road has actually made the team stronger on the whole.
“I think the road trip really helped because we all kind of gelled together,” Petrushka said following Monday’s game. “We lost together and now we’re winning together. We trust each other now. Really going into this month we come to the field loose but ready to win every day.”
The Crabs' readiness and eagerness to win was on clear display during their two game series against the Silicon Valley Sharks where they shutout the visitors 13-0 behind starting pitcher Marcelo Saldana in the first game. In five innings, Saldana struck out eight batters and allowed only two hits while the offense pelted the Sharks in the second inning for five runs and never let up the pressure. The bounce-back series against the Sharks ended in much the same way with the Crabs piling the runs yet again for a 21-3 final score. Tyler Davis led the charge for the Crabs in the battle of the sea creature-themed baseball teams, with five hits and five RBI’s including a team leading fourth home run of the season in the fourth inning.
The strong week continued through the weekend against the Sacramento Saints but the competition proved much closer for much of the series. The Crabs got things started early in the first game, as Cary Arbolida singled to score Colby Lunsford from second after the Crabs center fielder led off with a walk and took second on a pass ball. Unlike their games against the Sharks, however, the game remained a close affair, with the Crabs holding that one run lead through three innings before managing to score two more in the fourth. A late rally from the Saints in the eight inning briefly narrowed the gap to just one run before the Crabs responded with two of their own. Despite allowing a run in the ninth inning, Crabs pitcher Cameron Saso closed out the game for an 8-6 victory following Merek Sears’ start on the night. The Crabs would also take the second game of the weekend series 9-0 with pitchers Ethan Brodsky and Ethan Brown combining for the shutout and 14 strikeouts while the offense remained consistent.
The Saints visit to Arcata Ballpark was also the return of a familiar face for Humboldt Crabs fans with 2021 Crabs pitcher Wesley Harper coming back as a member of the Saints coaching staff and as a player. Sacramento struck early in the second inning and led up to the fourth before a walk and an error kicked off a four run rally for the Crabs, knocking out Saints starting pitcher Tyler Stewart. That brought in Harper for the Saints and in his return to Arcata he retired the first two Crabs batters he faced before the Crabs got to him with a pair of doubles to score a run and extend their lead with a Javier Felix RBI. The Crabs cashed in another run in the sixth inning before letting their pitching and defense do the talking with Eureka local Garrison Finck taking the ball for the last two innings to close out the game 6-4 and complete the sweep of the Saints.
With the Fourth of July falling on a Monday this year, the Crabs played a rare Monday game to open the week against the Solano Mudcats and it was none other than another Eureka native in Caleb Ruiz who was given the opportunity to start the big day at Arcata Ballpark that threw rain and sunshine in equal parts at the players.
“It was amazing,” Ruiz said after the game. “I mean, the crowd was vibrant, loud, just never stopped going honestly. And kept me going out there. Just knowing that the situation we were in, where it was very wet, rainy, the conditions on the field weren’t going to help my ground balls and that’s how I work. So the crowd helped me today a lot more than other times, honestly.”
With a 1-2-3 first inning to lead the Crabs back to the dugout after the first inning, the Crabs gave Ruiz the slightest breathing room with Davis knocking in Lunsford in the bottom of the first frame. Ruiz continued to work strong through six innings in what must have been a dream for any local ball player, striking out five batters through six innings and allowing only one run.
“It was different,” Ruiz said. “I got to see literally everybody. I mean guys that I went to high school with … it was just a different experience than I’ve ever had. Because usually it’s just college. You don’t get that many looks, you’ve got a few fans there. But this felt like just everybody's all eyes on me and it just felt good. It felt really good.”
The Crabs offense came to life in the middle of the game as the rain briefly subsided and gave way to sunshine and they scored six runs over the course of the third, fourth and fifth innings including Petrushka’s first home run of the season which he fired into the scoreboard in right field.
“I was a little frustrated my first two at-bats,” Petrushka said. “Felt like I was getting a little too big so I had to shorten up, let my power do the talking and just hit one over, thankfully.”
The game was also a reunion for Petrushka, who'd previously played for the Mudcats at Arcata Ballpark on the Fourth of July last season which made the experience even more enjoyable for the affable ball player from Hillsborough.
“It was almost sort of like a homecoming,” Petrushka said after Monday’s game. “I love the Mudcats. I played for them and it was a great time. I love the Crabs, both fantastic teams and I was really happy to be able to play here and play well against these guys and see a lot of old people and old friends. It was really a blessing.”
The local theme continued for the Crabs as the innings rolled by and the offense fired before Ruiz passed the ball off to another Eureka local in Hayden Bode who threw two innings before the rain started to come down for the ninth where McKinleyville native rounded out the game for the Crabs and put the finishing touches on what was a 10-5 final score for the Fourth of July.