RIDGEFIELD — Ridgefield designated hitter Michael Hicks got his home-run derby started early.
The all-star from Boise State is slated to play in Monday’s West Coast League home-run derby, and showed exactly why he’s a contender to win it with a line-drive solo bullet in the sixth inning of a 12-3 loss to Portland on Sunday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
“The kid was struggling to throw his offspeed for a strike and had thrown 12 fastballs in a row or something,” Hicks said. “So I was sitting dead red, if I’m being honest.”
Hicks leads the Raptors with five home runs on the year and is bringing in some special help in his quest to bring a derby crown to Ridgefield.
“I’ve got our stud BP coach and he’s our catching coach at Boise State, he’s coming in to throw to me,” Hicks said. “I’ll just let him provide all the power.”
Hicks also had an RBI double to open the Raptors’ scoring in the fourth inning and scored on a wild pitch to cut into a 6-0 early hole. But the scoring stopped there in the fourth for the Raptors, who had two on with no outs before being shutdown in the frame.
A five-run ninth inning by the Pickles ensured Ridgefield a second consecutive lopsided defeat. It was the eighth time this season the Raptors have allowed double-digit runs, including each of the past two games.
Teams now enter the all-star break, with Hicks, Steve Ramirez (Riverside City College) and Carter Benbrook (UC Santa Barbara) scheduled to represent Ridgefield in Bend on Tuesday. The rest of the Raptors will await a return to action for a nonleague game against the Northwest Stars before getting back to WCL action on Thursday against Victoria.
3 key moments
Bottoms up — The Pickles’ started their damage on Sunday from the bottom of the order. After the fifth and sixth batters walked, the seven-hole loaded the bases with a bunt single. It paved the way for nine-hole hitter Kyle Velazquez to put Portland on the board with a two-run double that rolled to the right-field fence. The top of the order followed with two more doubles and the Pickles led 4-0 in the second inning after batting around.
Reliever kills rally — No, not the mascot. With no outs, and two runs already across the plate courtesy of a Michael Hicks’ double off the left-field wall, the Raptors were poised to quickly erase a 6-0 deficit. But University of Oregon sophomore Christian Ciuffetelli relieved KC Hunt for the Pickles with two runners on base, and struck out Michael Yourg and got Tyler Erne to ground into a double play. In just seven pitches, the comeback was stifled.
Final dagger — Chase Luttrell (Long Beach State) put the final nail in the Raptors’ coffin Sunday with a two-run home run to right field that extended Portland’s lead to 9-3 in the ninth inning. The Pickles tacked on to that by scoring five runs on two hits in the inning to make it 12-3.
3 key players
Kyle Velazquez — The Pickles’ nine-hole hitter, from Saint Mary’s College, was hitting .143 and hadn’t played in a WCL game in a month entering the series with the Raptors. He ended the series going 6 for 9 with three doubles and five RBI, including a 4-for-5 day on Sunday.
John Jensen — The UC Santa Barbara senior continued to tear up Raptor pitching, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. He finished the series 8-for-15 with four RBI.
Michael Hicks — The Boise State senior hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, a bullet over the right-field fence, and finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a double.
1 — Time this season that Dusty Garcia (Arizona State) as been caught stealing. He got thrown out attempting to steal his team-high 10th base in the first inning Sunday.
5 — Home runs hit by Michael Hicks for the Raptors this season, a team-high.
7 — Consecutive games that all-star Michael Hicks has a hit, including an RBI double to open the scoring for the Raptors in the fourth Sunday. He’s hitting .314 on the year.
PORTLAND 12, RIDGEFIELD 3
Portland 042 000 105–12 13 0
Ridgefield 000 020 000–3 6 2
Pitching — KC Hunt 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K; Christian Ciuffetelli 3 IP (W), 1 H, 1 R, 4 K; Justin Kelly 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K; Patrick Hubbs 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K; Highlights — John Jensen 3-5, 2 2B, RBI; Kyle Manzardo 1-4, 2B; Thomas Rudinsky 1-4, 2B, 2 R; Chase Luttrell 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R; Alex Lambeau 2-4, 2 R; Kyle Velazquez 4-5, 2 2B, R, 5 RBI.
Pitching — Eli Schubert 1.2 IP (L), 4 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 2 K; Branden Nipp 1.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 K; Hayden Minich 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 K; Marc Lidd 1.1 IP, 3 K; Harrison Grow .1 IP, 1 H, 5 R, 4 BB; Carter Powell .2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB; Highlights — Dusty Garcia 1-1; Jack Bauer 1-2, R; Michael Hicks 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Steve Ramirez 1-4; Michael Yourg 1-3.