Crawdads Falter in Final game as Healdsburg Wins the CCL North Once Again
by Coby Segal
Three days ago, the Crawdads had swept the Healdsburg Prune Packers. Healdsburg’s place as the perennial division champion was at peril. The Crawdads won 2 close games at Monte Vista High School and dominated the Packers at Healdsburg.
Three days later, the Crawdads still controlled their destiny, only having to win at the 4th place Sonoma Stompers with a 15-19 record. But a dreadful 7th and 8th inning performance spiraled out of control and wrecked any hopes of a division championship and a first-round playoff bye.
After a scoreless top of the 7th, Joey Cammarata walked the first two batters of the bottom of the 7th. Brant Cummings then called for Nick Proctor, the soon to be 23 year old from South Carolina. Proctor had hit only two batters in 35 career CCL innings before the game, but in the 7th, he plunked the first two batters he faced to give the Stompers a 4-3 lead, which they would never relinquish. After a Sacrifice Fly from Isaiah Velazco, the lead was 5-3 entering the 8th inning. As they had all year, the Crawdads were searching for another miraculous comeback. After Cole Fellows and Matt King reached a single and Hit By Pitch. Tyson Pointer tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the pitcher Jacob Young retired the lead runner off a force out at third base. Tyson may have bunted on his own, as he has done frequently this year, but down two runs, and with Tyson’s power, giving away an out was costly. A Joey Donnelly hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Casey Cummings. Casey took strike three. With hope dwindling, it was up to Griffin Harrison, who hit a hard ground ball up the middle to the new shortstop Omar Gastelum, who dived, and from his back, flipped the ball to second to try and end the inning, but Joey Donnelly was safe. It was 5-4. But on the same play, Tyson Pointer tried to score to tie the game, and a good throw home had the ball to the Catcher as he was halfway down the line, and the inning ended. That would be the last real chance the Crawdads had at a division title.
At the bottom of the 8th, the wheels completely fell off. After two quick outs from Nick Proctor, Kellen Carr sent a grounder under the glove of Joey Donnelly at first base. Two straight doubles from Noah Rabin and Jag Burden and a single from Michael Bell scored three runs and chased Nick Proctor from the game, extending the Stomper lead to 8-4. Rabin, Burden, and Bell, the top three hitters, went 6-11 with three walks. The rest of the Stompers lineup managed 3-20.
After a Ryder Helfrick homer to lead off the 9th, the Crawdads went down quietly, officially giving Healdsburg back-to-back-to-back CCL North Division Championships.
While this was the most devastating loss of the season, there were nevertheless notable performances. Antoine Valerio started the game and pitched two scoreless innings allowing one hit led by his signature changeup. Ryan Troye continued his resurgence after an inconsistent start to the season, as he pitched two dominant innings before struggling in his third. His final line of two earned across three innings doesn’t do justice to his six-strikeout day in three relief innings. Ryder Helfrick had three hits along with his first CCL Home run as he continued to find his stroke. Finally, Ryan Ellis reached base in all his 29 games this season.
The Crawdads will host the Lincoln Potters at Monte Vista High School on Tuesday, August 1, for the Two vs. Three one-game playoffs. The winner will play Healdsburg at Recreation Park on Wednesday for the CCL North Pennant and the chance to head south for a 3-game championship series.