RIDGEFIELD – The Ridgefield Raptors took a positive first step in a three-game series against the Bend Elks that could have playoff implications in two weeks.
The question now becomes, what will it take for the Raptors to sustain success as they work deeper into the series?
Ridgefield topped Bend 10-1 on Tuesday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex behind 16 hits, five scoreless innings from starting pitcher Cooper Rons, a strong relief effort from Ryan Obrecht and an error-free defense.
If this movie sounds familiar, well, that’s because it is.
Ridgefield won its most recent series openers on the road at Bend and Cowlitz last week, before dropping the final two games in each series. The key for the Raptors to reverse that trend is consistency.
“The second and third game of the series has been tough this whole year, especially the third game closing out,” Ridgefield designated hitter Riley McCarthy said. “But for us, it’s just keeping a consistent effort through all three, especially in the heat like this – it can be hard to stay focused.
“I thought we did a great job tonight, just going about our business and keeping our routine no matter the circumstances of what has happened in past series.”
Unlike last week at Bend when the Raptors were playing catch-up in their two losses, they went ahead early Tuesday and kept pushing.
Safea Mauai hit an RBI single in the first inning, then scored on a McCarthy base hit to center field in the fourth.
Jacob Sharp doubled the Raptors’ lead one inning later with a two-run home run, before McCarthy doubled to score Mauai and put Ridgefield ahead 5-0.
“We definitely wanted to be the first team to score tonight,” McCarthy said. “They kind of beat us to the punch a few times on the road series, so being able to get out in front of them was huge tonight.”
The win for Ridgefield (25-17) improved its second-half record to 9-7 while Bend (24-19) dropped to 7-9. The two teams are currently in fourth and sixth, respectively, in the West Coast League South Division second half standings. Four teams from each division qualify for the playoffs.
His name is Jacob Sharp, and he hits dingers – The West Coast League leader in home runs hit his 10th of the season, a two-run blast to give Ridgefield a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Obrecht gets Ridgefield out of trouble – Andy Evans replaced Cooper Rons to begin the sixth inning after five scoreless innings. Evans walked the first two batters, gave up an RBI single to Evan Scavatto and walked another batter after a strikeout to load the bases.
That prompted Ridgefield to call Ryan Obrecht out of its bullpen, and the right-handed pitcher from Wayne State College stranded three Elks runners, ending the inning with a strikeout.
Pouring it on – The Raptors pounded four more runs on the Elks in the sixth inning to take a commanding 9-1 lead. The surge was started by three straight base hits from Mikey Kane, Jake Tsukada and Travis Welker. The latter hit from Welker scored Kane, before Tsukada scored on a bases-loaded walk and a McCarthy bases-loaded single scored Welker.
Riley McCarthy – The Mountain View High School and University of Portland player went 3-for-4 with a double and led the Raptors with three RBI.
Jake Tsukada – Along with McCarthy and Welker, Tsukada (Portland) had three hits for the Raptors batting in the leadoff spot. Tsukada returned to the lineup Sunday at Cowlitz after sitting out more than three weeks with a shoulder injury.
Ryan Obrecht – The reliever was a steadying force for the Raptors following Rons and Evans. In 3 2/3 scoreless innings, Obrecht held the Elks to three hits with one strikeout and no walks allowed.
10 – Home runs hit by Sharp this season. For context, Ridgefield’s Will Chambers totaled eight home runs to lead the West Coast League last season. Ridgefield still has 11 games left in the regular season.
304 – Bend runs scored in 43 games, the best mark in the league. The Elks were held to just one run on six hits Tuesday.
0.91 – ERA for Rons this season in 29 innings on the mound. The UC Santa Barbara right-handed pitcher boasts a 5-0 record and in his two most recent starts against Bend, Rons has held the league’s highest-scoring offense to zero runs in a combined 10 innings of work.
RIDGEFIELD 10, BEND 1
Bend 000 000 000—1 6 1
Ridgefield 100 134 01x—10 16 0
Pitching – Nate Freeman 4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Grant Farris 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Kenji Price 0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Colby Scheuber 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 2 BB. Highlights – Elijah Jackson 1-2; Evan Scavatto 3-4, RBI; Brady Kasper 1-4, 2B; Jude Hall 1-4; Michael Ball R.
Pitching – Cooper Rons 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB; Andy Evans 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 K, 3 BB; Ryan Obrecht 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada 3-5, R; Travis Welker 3-5, 3 R, RBI; Jacob Sharp 2-3, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI; Safea Mauai 2-2, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI; Riley McCarthy 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Doyle Kane 2-3; Mikey Kane 1-4, R.