RIDGEFIELD – Through the course of a summer, even good teams will find itself in a mini slump.
The Ridgefield Raptors are in one of those after a 7-1 loss to the Bellingham Bells on Tuesday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
It’s Ridgefield’s third loss in a row and the third straight game where the Raptors were held to three runs or less.
“You’ve got to keep grinding and stick to your approach,” said Raptors catcher Grant Heiser. “We had a few hits tonight, but we’ve got to get back to it tomorrow and be ready.”
Heiser, a Camas High grad who just finished his sophomore year at Seattle University, went 1 for 4. He has hit in all six games he’s played this summer and is batting .381.
But the Raptors couldn’t get a key hit when they needed it. Ridgefield went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“(Coach Chris) Cota was talking about it,” Heiser said. “I think it’s our two-strike approach and putting the ball in play more with runners in scoring position. Maybe it’s jumping on that pitch early.”
Bellingham (8-11) took the opener of the three-game series behind three-run homers in the first and ninth innings.
Tafton Hensley’s second home run of the summer was the lone run for Ridgefield (11-8).
Alarm bell – Bellingham struck in the top of the first, thanks to a three-run home run by Stanford-bound catcher Charlie Saum. With two outs, Saum swung at the first pitch. His high fly to right carried barely over the fence and into the visiting bullpen.
Stranded – Ridgefield had several scoring chances, but couldn’t get a clutch hit. The Raptors had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but had bad luck when Caden Connor lined out sharply to right. Ridgefield stranded 10 runners on Tuesday, including six in scoring position.
Finishing shot – Bellingham put the game away on Luis Aviles’ three-run homer in the top of the ninth. With two out, the first baseman launched his second homer of the summer over the centerfield fence.
Reece Hernandez – Whether he hits near the bottom or top of the order, the Raptors outfielder has delivered. Hitting in the No. 9 spot Tuesday, Hernandez went 2 for 3 and has hit safely in his last seven West Coast League games.
Nick Nygard – The Columbia River grad has been one of the Raptors best relief pitchers, and Tuesday was no exception. The University of Portland pitcher threw three innings of scoreless relief, striking out six. He now has a team-high 25 strikeouts in just 17 innings and lowered his ERA to 1.59.
Nate Weeldreyer – The Raptors pitcher was solid through most of his second start this summer, retiring nine in a row at one point. But in addition to a three-run homer in the first, Weeldreyer walked three in the fifth, including one that forced in a run. He allowed three hits and struck out two over five innings.
3.11 – Bellingham’s team ERA, the best in the West Coast League.
13 – Home runs Ridgefield has hit this season, the most in the league.
2 – Number of games Ridgefield has been held to one or fewer runs.
BELLINGHAM 7, RIDGEFIELD 1
Bellingham 300 010 003—7 8 0
Ridgefield 000 100 000—1 9 1
Pitching – Eric Chavarria 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB; Ryan Sanders 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 0 BB; Ryan Beitel 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 K, 2 BB; Greg Blackman 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Daniel Gernon 2-3, 2 R, 2B; Yugo Hamakawa 2-4, 2 R; Luis Aviles 2-4, R, 4 RBI, HR; Charlie Saum 1-4, R, 3 RBI, HR; Ty Saunders 1-4.
Pitching – Nate Weeldreyer 5 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 K, 4 BB; Nick Nygard 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 K, 0 BB; Cooper Vasquez 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 1 BB. Highlights – John Peck 1-4; Grant Heiser 1-5; Tafton Hensley 2-4, R, RBI, HR; Bradley Norton 1-4, 2B; Patrick Stark 2-4; Reece Hernandez 2-3.