RIDGEFIELD — For Tanner Jacques, every day with the Ridgefield Raptors feels like a tryout.
The Skyview grad, who just finished his junior season at Linfield, started this season with Ridgefield on a 10-day deal.
Now, Jacques is trying to turn that 10-day stint into a full summer with the Raptors.
Tuesday, Jacques had a key RBI single and a breathtaking defensive play in Ridgefield’s 6-3 win over the Portland Pickles at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. The win kept Ridgefield (4-0) as the only unbeaten team in the West Coast League.
At the start of each season, West Coast League teams often bring in players on 10-day stints to fill the roster until long-term players get into town. Ridgefield has four players yet to arrive.
Jacques, however, has played like more than a placeholder at shortstop and second base. He’s hitting .267 and been stellar on defense. He leads all WCL middle infielders with 14 assists and has not made an error.
“For me, defense is my biggest thing,” Jacques said. “Hitting comes and goes. Defense, I need to be on all the time.”
In the fifth inning, Jacques made as good of a defensive play as you’ll see this summer in Ridgefield.
With a runner on first, Portland’s Evan Leibl hit a ground ball up the middle. Jacques fielded the ball behind second base and flipped it straight from his glove to shortstop John Peck, who threw to first to complete the double play.
“It’s a thing I casually practice, but not too much,” Jacques said. “Off the bat I thought I’d have to dive, but I got there sooner than I thought. At that point, instinct took over.”
Four Ridgefield pitchers held Portland to just two hits as the Raptors continued their successful momentum they hope continues through the summer.
Jacques hopes to impress Ridgefield’s coaches enough so that he’ll be here all summer too.
“That’s the goal,” Jacques said. “Everyone wants to play well, but that’s something I’m fighting for. I love being here, I love the fans and I would love to play here all summer.”
Through the wickets — After Portland tied the game in the top of the fourth, Jacques quickly put Ridgefield back ahead. With two out and runners on the corners, the Skyview grad lined a hit between the legs of pitcher Jared Villalobos for an RBI single. Caden Connor followed with an RBI double to put the Raptors ahead 3-1.
Pressuring the Pickles — Ridgefield took control by making Portland pay for its mistakes. That happened in a three-run fifth inning, when Ridgefield took a 6-1 lead. The inning started with an error, a single and two walks. A second error with the bases loaded — a wild throw home — saw a potential double play turn into a run.
Slip slidin’ away — Portland pulled within 6-2 in the seventh inning and threatened to pull closer when Cam Clayton reached second on a wild pitch. Clayton nearly had third base stolen, beating the throw. But he slid past the bag on the wet turf, dampened by an evening drizzle, and was tagged out.
Kody Darcy — The Raptors third baseman is having a power surge. After homering twice in Sunday’s win over Bend, Darcy put Ridgefield ahead 1-0 with his third home run in the second inning. Darcy, who just finished his junior season at Xavier, is tied for the league lead in homers and is hitting .412.
Joey Martin — The Raptors pitching staff was boosted by the arrival of the left-hander, who led the West Coast League with 67 strikeouts while pitching for Ridgefield in 2019. Martin made eight relief appearances this spring for Dallas Baptist, which advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals on Sunday. Martin pitched three innings, striking out four while allowing one run and four walks.
Andrew Troppmann — It was raining steadily, but the Raptors reliever still needed to put out a fire. Portland had loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth, thanks to three walks. Troppmann, a side-armer from Clark College, entered the game. He got a strikeout, an RBI groundout and another strikeout despite slipping once on the slick mound. That let the Raptors escape with a 6-3 lead.
19 — The number of at bats Caden Connor has had to start the season without striking out. That’s the most of any West Coast League batter who hasn’t struck out this season. The outfielder from Cal State Fullerton also doubled for the fifth straight game, including the exhibition opener against Cowlitz.
1 — The loneliest number had company up and down the Raptors lineup. Seven of nine hitters had one hit, with just Connor having multiple hits.
6 — The number of hits Raptors pitchers have allowed over the past two games.