Bode Joyner had a big afternoon both on the mound and at the plate on Wednesday to lead St. Bernard’s past Ferndale 4-1 and into a tie with South Fork atop the Little 4 standings.
Joyner pitched a complete-game two-hitter and broke open a scoreless game with a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning.
The win lifts the Crusaders to 3-1 in conference play, while Ferndale drops to 2-2.
In other local baseball action on Wednesday, the Eureka Loggers opened their Big 5 account with a 9-4 win over Del Norte in their first game in almost three weeks.
Also in the Big 5, Arcata and McKinleyville split a doubleheader to remain tied for first in the standings.
The Tigers won the opener 13-1, before the Panthers edged out a 2-1 win in eight innings in the nightcap.
Ferndale 1, St. Bernard’s 4
Joyner and Shaun Leonardo combined for another pitchers’ duel in the Little 4, with the St. Bernard’s sophomore coming out on top — barely.
“I tip my cap to Shaun Leonardo,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “He was outstanding for five innings. He kept us off balance, he threw his curve ball in the strike zone the whole time, and he threw outstanding.”
With two outs and no one on in the bottom of the fifth, however, the Crusaders got rolling, loading the bases for Joyner, who stepped up with the game-winning hit.
“No other way to say it, Bode Joyner was the star of the night,” Tomlin said.
The three runs were all Joyner would need, but freshman Nick Dugan added another for good measure on an RBI single.
“He just continues to play outstanding,” Tomlin said of Dugan. “As a freshman, he’s years ahead in terms of ability.”
The Crusaders (9-3 overall) are scheduled to host Fortuna on Thursday at 4 p.m., weather permitting.
Ferndale (4-6) is scheduled to host South Fork in a crucial Little 4 doubleheader on Saturday.
Del Norte 4, Eureka 9
It was a successful home opener for the Loggers, who had played just three games over the past month and had not seen any action in almost three weeks.
“It was great to get a game in, but there were some rough field conditions out there which made things difficult for us and them,” Eureka head coach Jackie Christensen said.
The game was switched from Eureka’s home field to the Redwood Fields, and the Loggers took control quickly with starting pitcher David Vagle in control on the mound.
The returning Big 5 MVP tossed three scoreless innings for the win, allowing four hits and striking out four, and the Loggers led 6-0 when he left.
Keenan Morris led the way at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with two clutch hits, three RBIs and two runs, with the second baseman also making a “tremendous” two-out diving play in foul territory to save two runs, according to his coach.
Vagle added a double and an RBI, while Kalebh Hill and Tyce Mullins each also had a base hit and an RBI.
The Loggers, however, were out-hit 11-6 by the visitors, who refused to give in and rallied to pull within two after scoring four runs in the top of the fifth.
“Del Norte continued to battle the entire game so hopefully we can learn from that,” Christensen said, adding that his team “checked out a bit mentally.”
Hayden Bode, who is enjoying an impressive season, stepped up again in relief for the Loggers, shutting down the Del Norte rally.
“Bode attacked the strike zone and challenged hitters and had a great game,” Christensen said.
The Loggers added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull away again.
Eureka improved to 1-0 in the Big 5 and 4-3 overall, while Del Norte dropped to 0-4 and 3-6-1.
Eureka 9, Del Norte 4
Del Norte- 000 040 0- 4 11 4
Eureka- 240 030 x- 9 6 4
WP- Vagle 3 IP, 4 H, 4 K, BB, 0 R
Hitting- Morris 2-3, 3 RBI, 2 R, HBP, SB; Nylander 0-2, R, 2 HBP; Vagle 1-4, 2B, RBI; Gutierrez 0-3, SAC, RBI; Hill 1-2, RBI, BB, HBP; Giacone 0-3, BB, R, RBI; Munson 1-2, R; Bode 0-1, BB, R; Mullins 1-2, RBI, R, SB; Z. Anderson 0-2, BB, R, HBP.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.