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Sept. 23, 2021

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Raptors shake off slump in 15-10 win over Bellingham

Ridgefield bashes 20 hits to end 3-game losing streak

By , Columbian Sports Editor

RIDGEFIELD – The Ridgefield Raptors shook up their lineup and shook off a recent slump.

The Raptors’ bats reawakened in a 15-10 win over the Bellingham Bells on Wednesday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

The Raptors scored in every inning and rapped 20 hits. That let them snap a three-game losing streak in which they didn’t score more than three runs in any game.

Tafton Hensley, hitting in the leadoff position for the first time this season, reached on a bunt single to start Ridgefield’s offense.

That jump-started the offensive power that has made Ridgefield the highest-scoring team in the West Coast League at 8.05 runs per game.

10 Photos
Kids play catch in the fan section as Ridgefield takes on Bellingham in a West Coast League baseball game at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
Raptors vs. Bells Photo Gallery

“The offense basically went on vacation the last three days,” Hensley said. “We definitely wanted to make something happen early. I like leading off because I can use my speed. I wanted to make something happen right from the jump.”

Hensley wasn’t done. He went 4 for 6 with a two-run home run, his second homer in as many games.

And Hensley wasn’t alone. The top four hitters in Ridgefield’s batting order all had four hits.

“We feed off each other in hitting,” Hensley said, who boosted his batting average to .356. “Hitting is contagious. One guy gets a hit and you say, I want to do that too.”

Grant Heiser and Micah McDowell also homered for Ridgefield (12-8), which hit three home runs for the first time this season.

Bellingham (8-12) allowed the most runs of any game this season after coming into Wednesday with a league-best 3.11 ERA.

Three moments

Driving them home – Caden Connor entered Wednesday three RBI off the WCL lead. He pulled even in the second inning with a two-RBI single that gave Ridgefield a 4-0 lead. Connor’s three RBI Wednesday give him 23 this season and snapped a three-game RBI drought.

Momentum regained – Micah McDowell’s long home run nipped Bellingham’s comeback in the bud. The Bells scored three in the top of the third to pull within 6-3. But the Oregon State outfielder led off Ridgefield’s half with a blast that cleared the crest of the berm in right-center field.

Put it on the board – Heiser’s three-run home gave Ridgefield a 10-3 lead in the fourth inning. The catcher from Camas drove one off the scoreboard above the left-field fence for his first home run of the summer. He had five RBI Wednesday and has hit in all seven West Coast League games he has played.

Three players

Coby Morales – The West Coast League leader in hits added four more, giving him 34 on the season. He hit three doubles, giving him and Connor a league-high 10 this season.

Reece Hernandez – The Ridgefield outfielder had four hits and extended his WCL hitting streak to eight games. Hernandez scored three runs and boosted his batting average to .354.

Malakhi Knight – The No. 1 Major League prospect in Washington made his Bellingham debut the previous night against Ridgefield. Knight, who graduated from Marysville-Getchell High, has signed with UCLA. But the outfielder will certainly be selected in the MLB draft this summer and could command a seven-figure signing bonus. Wednesday, Knight went 1 for 5.

Three numbers

4 – Games left in for Ridgefield in the first half of the WCL season. Corvallis has a two-and-a-game lead over the Raptors in the South Division and will look to clinch the first-half title during this weekend’s three game series against Ridgefield.

139 – Walks allowed by Ridgefield this season, the most in the WCL. Raptors pitchers issued 15 more on Wednesday.

100 – Percent capacity now available for Raptors games. All COVID restrictions on attendance and social distancing were removed Wednesday following statewide reopening.