Eel River Babe Ruth 14-year-old All Stars win district title; team heads to Woodland this weekend for Nor Cal State Tourney

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

The Eel River 14-year-old Babe Ruth All Stars hosted and won the Nor Cal District 1 Championship, wrapping up the title this past Sunday at Newburg Park in Fortuna. The tournament bracket involved three teams from the district, the cream of the crop from the recently completed 13-14 year old Babe Ruth baseball season. Fortuna's Shiloh Viggers coached the Eel River team that won the regular season title, so it was only fitting that he would lead the All Stars team and Eel River would host the tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Eureka faced off against the combined McKinleyville/Arcata team on July 5 in the opening game of the tournament. Just like many of the games over the weekend, the two teams were locked in a close battle until a winner emerged. In this case it was the Eureka All-Stars who broke open a 6-6 tie ball game after five innings of play and went on to a 14-6 victory. Saturday morning Eureka took on the Eel River team and once again it was a thrilling ball game that came down to the final at-bats. Eureka jumped to a 3-0 lead early, but Eel River scored two runs in the third frame to tie it up.

Eel River starter Marty Corley gave way early in the game to pitcher Dante Viggers who went on to pitch five solid innings with six strikeouts. Eureka countered with starter Gary Juan, who pitched into the sixth inning but eventually tired and gave way to reliever Israel Tulmau. Close throughout, the two teams traded runs and the lead only to see the game tied at five apiece after the regulation seven innings. Eel River posted four walks, a hit batsman and solid base hits in the eighth to take a 11-5 lead. The big blows came from a bases loaded, 2-RBI double by Cody Betts and a 2-RBI double from Dylan Knotsman. Eureka answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning but too little, too late, as Eel River nailed down the 11-7 win.

In that contest, Dante Viggers got the win and Lane Shewry came on to pitch against Eureka's final at bat, getting two strikeouts for the save. Cody Betts finished 2/5 at the plate with 2 runs scored, Viggers drew two walks, was hit by a pitch and scored twice. Dylan Kepon drew four free passes and scored two runs. Saturday's afternoon elimination game saw McKinleyville best Eureka by a 15-9 score and the championship game was set for Sunday morning at Eel River would host McKinleyville for the title.

Another thriller unfolded for the championship as the two teams were deadlocked after five inning of play, the score read 5-5. McKinleyville's Greg Mattox had done a solid job as the starting pitcher but gave way in the sixth inning as Eel River's offense came alive with the game on the line. Eel River starter Marty Corley worked into the third inning but gave way to reliever Lane Shewry who worked the rest of the way on the mound. In their final at bat, Eel River broke the tie ball game as Garrett Johnson had an RBI single, Ben Flackus followed with a RBI double, Lane Shewry added a 3-RBI double and Dylan Kepon's triple scored two more runs.

McKinleyville posted a single run in their seventh inning at bat however, Shewry recorded three strikeouts in the inning to lock down the 14-7 victory for the championship. As the Nor Cal District 1 Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-Star Champions, Eel River will attend the Babe Ruth Northern California State Tournament in Woodland starting on Saturday. Although Eel River coach Shiloh Viggers expects the competition to be tough at Woodland, he has a solid group to make the trip. The winner from the state tournament goes to the Pacific Southwest Regional in Surprise, Arizona and from there it's on to the Babe Ruth World series in Virginia at the end of July.

An update to the Southern Humboldt 76ers American Legion team who were on the road for the second weekend in a row, the team went 2-2 at the 17-and-under Shasta Lake Tournament last weekend. Sixer head coach Kellen Maynard reported a loss to top team Chico Blue by a score of 16-2 and a loss to Orland. The final score was 11-6. However, the 76ers rebounded with two wins as Jacob Reid was winning pitcher against Northern Humboldt with a final score of 30-1. Southern Humboldt later got their revenge against Orland, winning 10-2, and Logan Thrap got the win on the mound for the Sixers. This Thursday the 76ers will be at home against the Patriots and Friday through Sunday will see the team host the Southern Humboldt Tournament at Newburg Park.

Photo by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

The Eel River 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars were crowned Nor Cal District 1 Champions on July 7 after two dramatic wins over the weekend vaulted the team to the title.