RIDGEFIELD – For as many runs as the Ridgefield Raptors have scored, the first-half of the West Coast League season ended with a rare pitcher’s duel.
The Corvallis Knights beat Ridgefield 2-0 Sunday in front of a season-high 1,301 fans at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
It was the first time the WCL’s highest-scoring team has been shut out this season.
But in taking stock of the Raptors’ first half, coach Chris Cota pointed to plenty of positives. Hallmark among them is leading the WCL in scoring at 7.25 runs per game.
“I’ve been impressed with the way we’ve been able to put up some runs,” Cota said. “We’ve taken some good at bats, although there have been some games where we’ve left a lot of guys in scoring position. But overall, in the first half we’ve done a good job of putting up runs.”
Players have spent the first half settling into a new setting and with new teammates. The adjustments extend beyond the field as well.
“None of these guys are used to playing every day,” Cota said. “Now that they’re playing every day, it’s a huge difference in how much sleep they’re getting. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s going to catch up and keep building. All of the sudden, you’re going to hit a wall. Some guys have done that. It’s a constant talk with them about eating right, staying hydrated and making sure they get their rest.”
Cota said the main focus for improvement in the second half will be limiting walks. Ridgefield leads the league with 150 walks allowed.
“Overall we’re still struggling to throw strikes,” Cota said. “Hopefully we figure that out pretty soon. I think if they can throw strikes and force contact, we’ve got a pretty darn good defense. With our offense, we could be alright.”
Ridgefield (13-11) finished the first half in five games behind South Division first-half champion Corvallis.
After a three-game non-league series against Bend, the Raptors will open the 24-game second half on Friday against Cowlitz. In addition to pursuing the postseason berth reserved for the second-half division champs, Ridgefield can also reach the playoffs if Corvallis wins the second half and Ridgefield has the division’s next-best overall record.
Though Corvallis swept the three-game series, each game was close with none decided by more than three runs.
“We’re a good club and they’re a good club,” Cota said. “We had a couple of tight games with them. They’re confident in moving forward and getting after the second half.”
Controversial lead – Corvallis broke a scoreless tie with one run in the eighth. Braden Boisvert reached on a hit-by-pitch that Ridgefield argued actually hit the knob of the bat. He advanced to third on a bunt single and sacrifice bunt, then scored on a sacrifice fly.
Dare you to try again – Corvallis had two baserunners in the top of the seventh, but Grant Heiser took care of both. The catcher from Camas threw out Travis Bazzana trying to steal second after he led off the inning with a walk. The next hitter, Tanner Smith, was thrown out at second in a strikeout-throwout double play.
Best chance – Ridgefield had a few scoring chances with runners reaching base in six innings. The best chance came in the eighth when Reece Hernandez and Caden Connor reached on one-out singles. But the threat went away when John Peck grounded into a double play.
Nate Weeldreyer – The pitcher served up the best start this season for the Raptors. Weeldreyer threw six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk. He retired the first 13 batters he faced and lowered his ERA from 6.30 to 3.93.
Brock Townsend – The Corvallis starter matched Weeldreyer with six scoreless innings. The Oregon State right-hander struck out five, allowing five hits and no walks.
Reece Hernandez – The outfielder had Ridgefield’s only multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 and finishing the first half with a .329 batting average.
57 – Pitches Weeldreyer threw until he allowed a baserunner on a one-out walk in the fifth inning.
9-0 – Corvallis’ all-time record against Ridgefield.
2:06 – Time it took to play Sunday’s game, the shortest of any this season for Ridgefield.
CORVALLIS 2, RIDGEFIELD 0
Corvallis 000 000 011—2 4 1
Ridgefield 000 000 000—0 7 0
Pitching – Brock Townsend 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 5 K, 0 BB; Nathan DeSchryver 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, W; Ethan Ross 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB; Nathaniel Mendoza 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3K, 0 BB, S. Highlights – Taison Corio 1-4; Tanner Smith 1-3, R, RBI, HR; Nick Vogt 1-2, R; Riley Way 1-1.
Pitching – Nate Weeldreyer 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB; Hudson Leach 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, 2 BB; Andrew Troppmann 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Tafton Hensley 1-4, 2B; Reece Hernandez 2-4; Caden Connor 1-4, John Peck 1-4; Kody Darcy 1-4; Dominic Enbody 1-4.