RIDGEFIELD – For Nate Weeldreyer, the stakes are high this summer.
The former University of Washington pitcher is looking for a new school. In his Ridgefield Raptors debut Wednesday, Weeldreyer showed why he was once one of the state’s top high school recruits.
Weeldreyer pitched five strong innings as Ridgefield beat the Yakima Valley Pippins 13-5.
In 2019, his senior year at Auburn Mountainview High, Weeldreyer had 97 strikeouts in 51.2 innings and a 0.54 ERA. He originally signed with Purdue but decommitted after a coaching change and signed with UW.
But after two seasons in Seattle, Weeldreyer entered the transfer portal this month. For him, this summer is vital in determining what path his college career will take.
“This summer is really important,” Weeldreyer said. “I have a lot of big goals in life and a lot of those have to do with baseball. If I perform this summer, I’ll get to where I need to be next year and be at a great school.”
The right-hander struck out six. Though he was charged with three earned runs, only one ball was hit hard.
Weeldreyer’s line would have been better if not for some bad luck. Two of the three hits he allowed were routine fly balls – one was lost in the sun and the other landed due to miscommunication.
“It had been awhile since I had played,” said Weeldreyer, who pitched just once for UW after April 30. “I wanted to go out there with a bang and have a good start to the summer.”
Weeldreyer retired the first 11 batters he faced. That allowed Ridgefield offense to take the upper hand, building a 5-0 lead in the third inning.
That set the tone as the Raptors (9-5) won for the first time in five tries against the West Coast League North Division leading Pippins (8-3).
Hitting back – In the bottom of the third, Ridgefield made Yakima Valley pitcher Kenny Johnson pay for hitting two batters. Kody Darcy was beaned to load the bases, setting the table for a two-RBI double by Caden Connor. The Raptors scored four runs in the inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Tough sun and luck – Weeldreyer was cruising and nearly perfect through four innings. Will Lajoie hit a high fly to right field, which Connor lost in the brutal evening sun. Noah Williamson followed with a home run, his second in as many games, to cut Ridgefield’s lead to 5-2.
Two-run error – Ridgefield opened an 8-2 lead with three runs in the fifth, two of which scored on a pickoff attempt gone awry. Pippins catcher Michael Carpentier tried to throw out Grant Heiser, who had led off third base. But the wild throw went down the left field line, allowing Heiser and Kody Darcy to score.
Grant Heiser – The Raptors catcher and Camas High grad hadn’t played since June 13, when he entered concussion protocol after a game in Yakima. Heiser went 1 for 2 with a double, three walks and three runs scored, raising his batting average to .428.
John Peck – The Raptors leadoff hitter extended his West Coast League hitting streak to five games, going 3 for 3. Peck scored Ridgefield’s first run in the first and capped a four-run third inning with an RBI single.
Kody Darcy – The third baseman had been struggling, with three hits in his last 36 at bats. But he broke out with an RBI double and a two-run homer.
20 – Batters Ridgefield sent to the plate in the first three innings en route to a 5-0 lead.
15 – Days it had been since Yakima Valley had lost. Tuesday’s loss snapped a six-game West Coast League win streak and a 12-win streak overall.
8 p.m. – New start time of Ridgefield’s game at the Portland Pickles on Saturday, when potential all-time record heat is forecast. Sunday’s game is now set for 7:30 p.m., two-and-a-half hours later than originally scheduled.
RIDGEFIELD 13, YAKIMA VALLEY 5
Yakima 000 202 001—5 6 3
Ridgefield 104 030 50x—13 14 2
Pitching – Kenny Johnson 2.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 K, 4 BB, loss; Peyton Stumbo 2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 1 BB; Ryan Arredondo 1.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 0 K, 3 BB; Payton Robertson 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Will Lajoie 1-4, R, 2B; Noah Williamson 1-3, R, 3 RBI, HR; Michael Carpentier 1-4; Blake Dickman 1-3, 2B; Connor Coballes 1-3; Spencer Marenco 1-3, 2B.
Pitching – Nate Wheeldreyer 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, win; Noah Larson 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB; Andrew Troppmann 1 IP, 1 H, 0 K, 0 BB; Jett Lodes 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 K, 2 BB. Highlights – John Peck 3-3, R, RBI, SB; Reece Hernandez 2-6, R, RBI; Coby Morales 3-5, R, 3 RBI, HR; Will Chambers 1-5, 2B; Brady Kasper 1-3, 2 R; Grant Heiser 1-2, 3 R, 2B; Kody Darcy 2-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2B, HR; Caden Connor 1-3, R, 2 RBI, 2B.