RIDGEFIELD — Walk-up songs among this year’s group of Ridgefield Raptors players typically fall within one of a few genres.
The mix includes some hip-hop, rock, country, even a couple reggae songs.
Then there’s one outlier, a 1972 Mexican ranchera-style song that stands out with its chorus of crisp trumpets, violins and a backing rhythm section booming out of the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex sound system.
It also stands out because of the player walking up to the plate — Ridgefield slugger Jacob Sharp.
“The song is called ‘Volver Volver’ by Vicente Fernández, and that’s just my culture. I’m Mexican, so I’m keeping the Latin culture around here too,” Sharp explained this week.
Roughly translated to English, the title words are “going back, going back,” and it’s fitting when applying those words to baseball, because opposing outfielders have done a lot of that lately when Sharp is at bat.
In a three-game series this week against the Portland Pickles, Sharp hit three home runs across two games — both wins for the Raptors — and now leads the West Coast League in home runs (six) and slugging percentage (.667).
Raptors fans got a strong first impression of Sharp, a UNLV signee who played last season at Fullerton College, when he hit a pair of home runs at the RORC in the team’s opening exhibition game June 1 against the Cowlitz Black Bears.
Those homers didn’t count toward his season total, but he wasted no time in getting two more June 3-5 during a three-game home series against Walla Walla, before adding a third two weeks later against Cowlitz.
Ridgefield also boasted last year’s WCL home run leader in Will Chambers, who tallied eight for the season and currently has four this summer. Sharp has launched all six of his homers at the hitter-friendly confines of the RORC.
As a team through Thursday’s games, the Raptors lead the WCL with 22 dingers on the season. The next highest teams are the Nanaimo NightOwls (17) and Victoria HarbourCats (16).
“Coming from California, I got to say I love hitting in Washington,” Sharp said. “I love hitting in Ridgefield, that’s the main thing.”
This week against the Pickles, Sharp’s production was particularly timely. After opening game one Tuesday with a solo shot in the first inning, he hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the seventh to break a 4-4 tie.
The Pickles came back to tie the game, but faced trouble in the bottom of the ninth when the Raptors loaded the bases and had Sharp at third for the go-ahead run.
While the Pickles made a pitching change, Raptors head coach Chris Cota was in Sharp’s ear at third telling him to be ready to get a jump in case of a wild pitch.
That exact scenario played out a couple pitches later, and Sharp was ready for it. He slid into home ahead of the tag to give the Raptors an 8-7, walk-off win.
The following night, a 7-3 Ridgefield win, he knocked in three RBI and gave the Raptors the lead for good with a two-run blast in the sixth.
“We like to compete, we don’t like to lose and we just want to keep winning together,” Sharp said. “That’s the main goal, I feel like, with this team.”
Jacob Sharp statistics
(Through June 30)
Games played: 16
Batting average: .317
Home runs: 6
Runs scored: 15