RIDGEFIELD – The Ridgefield Raptors became the resilient Raptors in Thursday’s series finale against the Bend Elks.
They faced deficits at three separate points against the Elks and clawed back each time, scoring all 10 of their runs with two outs.
In the aftermath of a five-run sixth inning, the Raptors lead was safe for good. Their 10-7 win over the Elks clinched a series victory ahead of a six-game road stretch, and kept them in the thick of the West Coast League playoff race with a 26-18 record, three games behind second place in the south division.
“We were down early and said, we got to make a run, we got to come back,” Ridgefield first baseman Safea Mauai said.
“Luckily, we ended up making it happen. We just got to keep it going.”
Bend took its second lead, 4-2, with a pair of home runs in the fifth inning from Jude Hall and Elijah Jackson against Ridgefield starting pitcher Nate Weeldreyer.
In the bottom half of the inning, with Jacob Sharp and Mauai, Ridgefield’s No. 3 and 4 hitters, due up with two outs, Mauai called his shot.
“It’s actually pretty crazy, and everybody here (in the dugout) can vouch for me,” Mauai said. “I got up there in the batter’s circle and I told Sharp, I said, ‘Let’s go back-to-back right here.’”
Sharp connected on a 2-1 pitch and launched a ball over the fence in right center. Step one was complete.
Then came the lefty hitter Mauai, who took strike one before taking the next pitch for a ride.
“That was like a one of one, (I) just called it,” Mauai said. “I just had a feeling there and it happened.”
The back-to-back solo home runs to tie the game were one of several answers the Raptors had for the Elks.
Ridgefield’s final counter came after surrendering the lead with two Bend runs in the sixth. The Raptors were down to their final strike of the inning when they got a stroke of luck from a Bend fielding error, which allowed Jake Tsukada and Sepulveda to score the tying and go-ahead runs. By the end of the inning, Ridgefield scored five runs to take a 10-6 lead.
“Before the game started, we knew we were half a game up (on Bend) and we knew if we lost this game we would be half a game down. We were like, we just got to come out and keep the pedal on them, keep the pressure on them and just go out there and win,” Mauai said.
The Raptors’ six-game road slate starts Friday against the Springfield Drifters and continues with a series at the Walla Walla Sweets beginning Tuesday. Then, the Raptors return home for their final series of the regular season against the Corvallis Knights.
Take your base – Bend starting pitcher Jack Slominski hit Doyle Kane and Riley McCarthy with pitches on two straight at-bats in the fifth inning. Alex Sepulveda stepped into the batter’s box and hit a one-hopper into centerfield, which sailed over the Elks. Sepulveda ended up with a triple while two runs scored, giving Ridgefield a 2-1 lead.
Back-to-back bombs – Jacob Sharp and Safea Mauai, batting third and fourth in the Raptors’ order, respectively, delivered two straight solo home runs as part of a three-run fifth inning.
Costly error – Bend was one pitch away from getting out of the sixth without giving up a run, but on a full count with two outs, Sharp hit a ground ball at Jackson, Bend’s shortstop, who committed a fielding error allowing two runs to score.
Three more runs scored on a pair of walks and wild pitch to give the Raptors a commanding 10-6 lead.
Jacob Sharp – The UNLV commit hit his second home run of the series and league-leading 11th of the season in the fifth.
Alex Sepulveda – A timely triple from the College of the Canyons player put the Raptors’ first two runs on the board and gave them a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Travis Welker – Welker (Fresno State) led Ridgefield with a 2-for-4 effort, which included a double, and raised his batting average to .333.
10 – Runs scored by Ridgefield with two outs.
7 – Number of batters hit by pitches between the two teams: five for Ridgefield and two for Bend.
2 – Home games at the RORC left in the regular season. Ridgefield will play road series at Springfield and Walla, then face Corvallis in a home-away-home series. The Raptors will play host to the Knights on Aug. 5 and 7.
RIDGEFIELD 10, BEND 7
Bend 010 032 100—7 7 2
Ridgefield 000 235 00x—10 6 1
Pitching – Jack Slominski 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 K, 2 BB; Noah Juarez 1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Marques Brown 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 3 BB; Clay Thompson 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Elijah Jackson 1-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI; Brady Kasper 1-4, RBI; Riley Kasper 1-4, 2 R; Isiah Burke 1-3, R; Wilson Weber RBI; Jude Hall 3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI; Michael Ball R.
Pitching – Nate Weeldreyer 5.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 2 BB; Michael Lozano 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 K, 3 BB; Andy Evans 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB; Gary Hall 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada R; Travis Welker 2-4, 2B; Jacob Sharp 1-4, 2 R, HR, RBI; Safea Mauai 1-4, 2 R, HR, RBI; Doyle Kane 1-3, 3 R; Riley McCarthy R, RBI; Alex Sepulveda 1-2, R 3B, 2 RBI.