Healdsburg Prune Packers split 1st 2 games of league championship series

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The Healdsburg Prune Packers fought back from a Game 1 loss in the California Collegiate League championship series Saturday, winning the afternoon sequel to force a deciding Game 3 Sunday.

A slow start cost North Division champion Healdsburg in Saturday’s opener at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, as the Santa Barbara Foresters jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Santa Barbara, the league’s South Division champion, added another run in the third before the Prune Packers offense finally responded with five runs in the top of the sixth.

Cal Conley hit a solo home run and John Lagattuta hit a massive three-run blast later in the inning to briefly give Healdsburg the lead, but the Foresters scored four in the bottom half of the inning. Santa Barbara then shut down the Packers’ bats in the last three innings to win 8.5.

In Game 2 later Saturday, Healdsburg opened up a five-run lead after three innings. Prune Packers batters walked eight times in those innings and Jason Dicochea hit a bases-loaded two-run RBI in the third.

Starter Elijah Birdsong was big for the Packers, going into the sixth inning and holding the Foresters to four runs.

However, the Foresters chipped away against the Healdsburg bullpen and tied the game 5-5 in the top of the eighth.

Healdsburg’s offense roared again in the bottom half. David Langer hit a two-RBI double off the right field wall, Connor Mack added an RBI double and Bryan Sturges drove in the winning run with a clutch base hit for the 9-5win.

The league championship will be decided in Sunday’s winner-take-all Game 3 at noon.

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