Sum­mer ball still a go, for now

The Hum­boldt Crabs and Hum­boldt B52s hope to open their sea­sons at the end of May

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Andrew But­ler abut­ler@times-stan­dard.com @But­ler_on­sports on Twit­ter

Sum­mer base­ball is right around the cor­ner and the old­est, con­tin­u­ously-op­er­ated sum­mer col­le­giate wood-bat team in the na­tion is keen on do­ing ev­ery­thing in its power to play its 76th sea­son in a row.

The Hum­boldt Crabs will ten­ta­tively start the sea­son May 29 at home against the Cor­val­lis Knights, pro­vided the worst of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic has passed. An out­break of COVID-19 in the US re­cently forced the NCAA and the CCCAA to can­cel all spring ath­let­ics and is cur­rently re­spon­si­ble for the in­def­i­nite clo­sure of all school and col­lege cam­puses in the state, and the sub­se­quent sus­pen­sion of all high school spring ath­let­ics.

Board pres­i­dent David Sharp said the Crabs’ or­ga­ni­za­tion is fac­ing “un­charted ter­ri­tory.

“The hope is that we’ll play a full sea­son,” Sharp said. “But if we have to play a short­ened sea­son, that’s what we’ll do. At the end of the day, it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide our fans with a safe at­mos­phere to watch games, so we have to be re­al­is­tic even if that means play­ing a short­ened sea­son or hav­ing no sea­son at all. The bot­tom line is that we are do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to get on the field this sea­son.”

Ul­ti­mately, de­ci­sions to push

back the start of the sea­son or call it off all to­gether fall on the Crabs’ board of di­rec­tors.

Crabs man­ager Robin Guiver said he’s fo­cused on re­cruit­ing play­ers and build­ing out his 2020 ros­ter.

“I don’t think I’ve felt the level of ex­cite­ment be­fore that I have been get­ting from th­ese guys over the past few weeks,” Guiver said. “With their sea­sons hav­ing been can­celed, th­ese guys are fired up and ready to go. Whereas usu­ally we would jump right into the sum­mer sea­son with no real break for th­ese guys, now we’ll be get­ting on the field af­ter two to three months of down time where they haven’t been able to prac­tice much, and that’s some­thing ev­ery­one is go­ing to deal with so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how that plays out.”

The NCAA as well as the CCCAA each an­nounced re­cently that ath­letes who’s spring sea­sons were can­celed due to COVID-19 will be al­lowed to re­coup a year of el­i­gi­bil­ity.

And that means one fan­fa­vorite in par­tic­u­lar will get to spend a third sum­mer with the Crabs.

For­mer For­tuna Husky turned CSU Mon­terey Bay Ot­ter Kokko Figueiredo will re­turn to the Crabs for a third sea­son. Figueiredo led the Crabs with 64 hits in 2019 and had the third-most RBIs (28) and the third-high­est bat­ting av­er­age (.364) for the club.

Ethan Fis­chel, a for­mer Eureka High player who spent 2019 on the Hum­boldt B52s, will also re­turn to the Crabs, as will lo­cal stand­out Dy­lan Camp­bell who as a pitcher had the third-low­est ERA (1.714) on the Crabs last sea­son.

Other no­ta­bles re­turn­ing from the 2019 club in­clude Bryce Kirk, who hit nine home runs and eight dou­bles last sea­son and Dal­ton Smith, a re­liever who ap­peared in 16 games in 2019. Jackson O’Boy, a 2018 fan­fa­vorite, will re­turn to the Ar­cata Ball Park in 2020 af­ter spend­ing 2019 away from the crab­bies.

The Crabs have five sched­uled games against the Hum­boldt B52s in 2020, three at home and two at Bomber Field.

The Crabs swept the B52s 5-0 in last sea­son’s se­ries.

“The B52s have done a great job over the years es­tab­lish­ing them­selves and its al­ways fun get­ting on the field with them,” Guiver said.

B52s’ owner and cap­tain Jeff Giacomini said his club, which plans to open the sea­son May 30, will hold out as long as it can.

“We’re still all in,” Giacomini said. “We’re go­ing to hang on un­til we have to let go.”

Giacomini said the can­cel­la­tion of col­lege base­ball has made sum­mer ball as hot an op­tion as he’s ever seen it.

“It’s been a great year for re­cruit­ing,” Giacomini said. “Guys won’t get to play this spring so they aren’t go­ing to take the sum­mer off. As as re­cruit­ing goes, this is the best I’ve ever seen it.”

The Crabs will, for the sec­ond year in a row, host the Hum­boldt Ea­gles 19-U Amer­i­can Le­gion team. That game will be played on June 23.

Ea­gles’ head coach Matt Tom­lin, who played along side Guiver on the Crabs years ago, said the op­por­tu­nity for his young play­ers to step on the field with the Crabs is a “dream come true.

“That game last sum­mer was a great night for Hum­boldt County,” Tom­lin said. “A lot of kids had their dreams come true in get­ting to step on the field with the Crabs, which are to a lot of kids from this area the clos­est thing to a ma­jor league team that they see grow­ing up. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to show­case all the lo­cal tal­ent we have on a great stage in front of Hum­boldt County.”

Tom­lin said the 2020 Ea­gles have the po­ten­tial to be the best team in the pro­gram’s his­tory. The pitch­ing is cer­tainly to that level as the club will fea­ture al­lcounty arms and col­le­giate can­nons in Mer­ick Sears, Caleb Ruiz, Nick Du­gan, Cameron Saso, Brady Mun­son, CJ Van Me­ter, Lan­don Gomes and half-a-dozen other aces.

“Our pitch­ing staff goes 10 deep, we are loaded with tal­ent this year,” Tom­lin said. The Ea­gles, as of now, are still set to be­gin the sea­son in June.

As has be­come the norm, the Crabs will play a hand­ful of games against the home team’s fa­vorite club to heckle, the Pa­cific Union Fi­nan­cial Cap­i­tal­ists. Also on the 2020 sched­ule are the Lin­coln Pot­ters, the Seat­tle Studs and the Yuba-Sut­ter Gold Sox.

Much of the Crabs’ sea­son will be de­ter­mined by what other clubs do in re­sponse to the coro­n­avirus and where the state and na­tion stand in a few months’ time.

JOSE QUEZADA — FOR THE TIMES-STAN­DARD

Kokko Figueiredo plans to re­turn to the Hum­boldt Crabs this sum­mer for the team’s 76th sea­son.

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