INFIELD HIT Healdsburg’s leading hitter, Joey Kramer (No. 6), gets on base with a Potters error in the July 3 game. Kramer leads the team with a .394 batting average, 25 RBIs and 10 home runs as of July 7.

The Healdsburg Prune Packers continue to reward their fans, delivering yet another compelling reason for them to visit Rec Park on a hot summer’s day or night.

The Pack finished out the month of June with a streak against Pacific Empire League (PEL) opponents that carried them to successive wins over the Solano Mudcats (June 29, 7-2), West Coast Kings (July 2, 8-1) and Lincoln Potters (July 3—an 8-7 squeaker, won in the bottom of the ninth on a leadoff home run from Connor Charpiot).

As the temperature dipped into the 90s, the Stars and Stripes soared over grandstands. Branson School’s CC Brenner sang the National Anthem, and the Healdsburg team trotted onto the field in red, white and blue knee socks.

The game received added momentum by the announcement, just hours before, that the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show had been canceled, which meant that going to a baseball game was the best way to celebrate Independence Day.

Home Run Swing
BLAST Eammon Lance (No. 23) uncorks a 3-run home run during the 5-run fourth inning against the Lincoln Potters on July 3.

The visiting team didn’t have that far to come: The Athletic Edge Express is based in Petaluma, and while not a PEL team—it’s only two years old—it draws from the same reservoir of college-age baseball talent to fill its roster. The sponsor Athletic Edge runs summer baseball and softball programs for younger players, so opening up to the college-eligible “elders” makes sense.

Since it’s a Petaluma team, Healdsburg coach Joey Gomes readily admits he “knows all of them.” With the Express riding a losing season record, and the game on home turf, the odds favored the Pack. But baseball is a game of surprises.

Healdsburg jumped out to a three-run lead in the first two innings, then the Express began picking away at starting pitcher Wyatt Tucker. They piled up five runs in the inning, two on Brad Boyd’s home run, and while Healdsburg got three of them back in the bottom, the game proved to be hard fought.

The Express scored three more times to take the 8-6 win. Four Healdsburg fielding errors didn’t help the home team, and the Express’ Luke Dillon pitched three scoreless innings for the win.

The long holiday weekend continued for the Packers, but once they saw the familiar PEL opponents they got back on track. After giving up two runs in the top of the first to the West Coast Kings on July 5, starter Robert Aivazian got in the zone and kept the Kings off-balance for the win. The offense backed him up with a drumbeat of runs, including two hits and three RBIs from Camden Hayslip, for a comfortable 9-2 victory.

FOUR-BAGGER Moments after Eamon Lance cleared the bases with a 3-run homer, Camden Hayslip (No. 22) follows it up with his own home run in the fourth inning of the Potters game. Coach Joey Gomes offers congratulations.

Saturday night found a rematch with the Kings to close out Healdsburg’s five-game homestand. The results were strikingly similar—a 9-1 win this time, powered by 14 hits from the Pack, three of them from Logan Sutter and a pair each for Robbie Hamchuk, Maddox Molony and Joey Kramer.

Sunday morning found the Packers loading up into the team bus and making the two-hour drive to Solano, to face off against the Mudcats. Though coming off an exhausting three-hour, 16-14 win over the Alameda Anchors the day before, they kept up the momentum, leading 7-2 at the end of only four innings.

In the fifth inning Hayslip homered with Charpiot and Kramer on base, and four more came across the next inning on a pair of home runs, by Charpiot and Hayslip again. That gave the Packers the lead for good, for an 11-7 final score.

At this point in the season the Prune Packers continue to sit comfortably in first of the Pacific Empire League with a 16-2 league record, 24-3 overall. The next strongest team is the Lincoln Potters, 8-5 in league play and 26-8 on the year.

This coming week, Tuesday (results too late for press time) through Thursday, a three-game series with those Potters gives them a chance to gain ground. And if they stay as the No. 2 seed in the league, the Potters and the Packers will play in the league championship series in early August.

Three more weeks of league play remain, with five games each. Home games this week include the West Coast Kings Black squad on Friday, July 12, and the Menlo Legacy on Saturday (both non-PEL teams). The games start at 6pm; there is no Sunday game this week at Rec Park.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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