Humboldt Crabs take series against Seattle Studs thanks to big seventh-inning offense

All the Crabs needed was for one blooper to fall.  And just like that, the weight was off their shoulders and the bats woke themselves up.

After staring at a zero in the hit column for nearly two hours Sunday afternoon, the Humboldt Crabs’ first hit was the appetizer to a main course in the form of a five-run seventh inning that propelled them to a 6-4 win over the Seattle Studs in front of a lively and loud 1,145 spectators at the Arcata Ball Park.

“Sometimes just cracking through and getting that first hit can get things going,” Crabs manager Robin Guiver said. “I really think a lot of aspects of baseball can be contagious. If you’re throwing strikes, your defense plays well behind you. If you’re hitting, other guys starting hitting behind you. If you’re slumping, it can pile on that way, too. Getting that first one can work that way, and then we had some big hits after that.”

No, they didn’t hit double digits like they had in their previous three afternoon games this season.

Once the Crabs got their first hit of the game, a blooper into shallow right field by designated hitter RJ Hassey with nobody out in the seventh, the offense was soon to follow.

Humboldt (11-2 overall) led the entire way, getting a run in the bottom of the first without even making contact. Seattle starting pitcher Donovan Feenstra racked up over 40 pitches and walked four batters — including Crabs third baseman Kyle Callahan with the bases loaded to bring in Jack Krauel — in the bottom of the first.

But then came the seventh inning.

And so arrived the Crabs’ offense.

With Feenstra out of the game, Humboldt got things going with a runner finally on base via a hit thanks to Hassey. Crabs leadoff man Alex Aguiar had the crushing blow of the inning, as his high-arching drive to left field cleared the wall for a three-run home run to put the Crabs up 4-0.

“With two outs and runners in scoring position, I’m just trying to get a hit to score some guys and find a way to score at least one run,” Aguiar said. “I just go under one and once it got into that wind I thought it might have a chance. I’m just glad it got over.”

Ryan Myers pushed his team-leading RBI total to 19 with a run-scoring single. Kyle Blakeman continued his strong start to the season with an RBI double to right-center to bring home Jeremiah Burks and cap the Crabs’ big inning that pushed their lead to 6-0.

All of Humboldt’s five runs in the inning came with two outs.

“Credit to their starter because he did a great job today against us. That one bloop single got us going,” Aguiar said. “I think we’re a good hitting squad and a couple of hits can really get us going.”

The Studs scored all of their runs in the top of the ninth and prevented the Crabs from getting their shutout in the season.

Jae Wagner recorded the final two outs of the ninth inning after he replaced Wyatt Tucker — who allowed all four runs on five hits in 1-3 of an inning — to pick up his fourth save in as many chances this summer.

“A good, nice win,” Guiver said, “especially after losing Friday and then coming back [to win Saturday and Sunday] against an opponent like that. It’s a nice series to win.”

Other than that, it proved to be a complete duel between Feenstra and Crabs starter Connor Loar, who was making his 2017 debut.

After his wild first inning, Feenstra settled down and completely overpowered Crabs hitters for much of his five-inning outing.

In those five no-hit innings, Feenstra struck out 12 batters and only allowed one more baserunner — via a walk — to get on.

“They had a big, hard-throwing lefty that had good stuff. He was a little wild in the first inning and we left the bases loaded and only got one in the first,” Guiver said. “He shut us down for some innings, but Connor Loar did a great job matching him and putting up some zeroes.”

Loar, who was mainly used as a reliever in the spring at UC Davis, made quite the good first impression.

Not only was he efficient with his pitches — he didn’t surpass the 80-pitch mark on Sunday — but he kept a Studs offense that entered the game with a combined 31 hits in the series extremely quiet. He allowed all of three hits and walked one, while

After two straight games of the Studs hitting the ball all over the Arcata Ball Park field, there wasn’t much of that going on Sunday.

“I just saw them take a lot of hacks throughout the weekend. They were swinging at a lot of pitches,” Loar said. “I thought that if I kept the ball down and try to get the ball on the ground, keep it out of the air, I could be very effective. I definitely thought I did that and threw well today.”

The Crabs open up a two-game midweek series against the California Storm in Arcata on Tuesday night before heading over State Route 299 to face the Redding Colt 45s in Redding for a three-game set.

“I think we’re playing pretty well right now,” Loar said. “We’re swinging the bats great, we’re pitching great. I definitely think we’re going to roll into this next weekend hot and definitely look to take the series.

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