PORTLAND – From the starter through the fifth and final reliver, the Ridgefield Raptors’ pitching staff was locked in from the start of Tuesday’s series opener against the Portland Pickles.
Between starter Giancarlo Flores, who pitched three hitless innings, plus relievers Josh Sandoval, Harrison Howell, Gary Hall and Jeter Scheurman, the five pitchers combined to shut out the Pickles and hold them to three hits in a 3-0 win at Walker Stadium.
It was the third shutout win in Raptors team history dating back to the inaugural 2019 season.
“They had good command of their fastballs, trusted the pitch calling, which was key, and we just clicked today,” said catcher Isaac Lovings. “It was good to see.”
The Raptors’ catching rotation of Lovings, Jacob Sharp and Riley McCarthy started the season using wristbands to relay pitch calls from the dugout, but according to Lovings, for the past several games they’ve called games on their own.
On a night like Tuesday, the exchanges between pitcher and catcher were smooth.
Flores got it started with three innings free of a hit, run or walk, while striking out three. Sandoval followed with three more scoreless innings and two hits allowed. Howell, Hall and Scheurman each pitched one inning, with the latter striking out the final two Pickles batters to secure the road win.
Ridgefield’s Travis Welker delivered an RBI single in the fifth to get the Raptors on the board, before designated hitter Will Chambers hit a solo home run to right field in the sixth. Jake Tsukada added an insurance run in the ninth inning after Pickles short stop Jose Ruiz attempted to make a bare-handed grab and throw, which went wide of first base.
The win was the Raptors’ third straight and moved them closer to the Pickles (7-4), who sit in the third place in the West Coast League South Division ahead of Ridgefield (9-6) in fourth.
“Very important,” Lovings said of starting of the series with a win. “It sets you up, gives you good momentum going into the next game. At my college (Pacific University), we played doubleheaders the first games of the series, and it’s important to win that first one just to kind of give you that head start.”
Sepulvada’s spark – While Portland struggled to find base hits, so too did Ridgefield in the early stages of the game. Then, Alex Sepulvada hit a double off the centerfield wall in the fifth inning and Welker immediately followed with a base-hit to score Sepulvada.
Turn two – The Pickles threatened to score in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second, but a 4-6-3 Ridgefield double play stopped their momentum.
Raptors close the door – The Pickles’ final rally in the ninth gained steam when a sacrifice fly moved Kyler Stancato over to third with one out. Scheurman promptly closed the game out by fanning the final two batters.
Travis Welker – Batting ninth, the Fresno State product went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Will Chambers – Last year’s leading home-run hitter in the WCL added to his 2022 total with a solo blast in the sixth inning. Chambers has four homers on the season, which is tied for second in the league behind Edmonton’s Ivan Brethowr.
Giancarlo Flores – In his second start of the season, the right-handed pitcher set the tone for what Ridgefield accomplished on the mound Tuesday.
“It propped us up,” Lovings said. “He had his stuff last time when I caught for him up in Canada (June 12 against Nanaimo) and today he was even better.”
18 – The total number of strikeouts thrown in the game all combined (nine on each team).
3 – Shutouts in Ridgefield Raptors team history, dating back to the 2019 season.
16 – Ridgefield’s home run total for the season thus far, which leads the WCL.
RIDGEFIELD 3, PORTLAND 0
Ridgefield 000 011 001—3 8 0
Portland 000 000 000—0 3 1
Pitching – Giancarlo Flores 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB; Josh Sandoval 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB; Harrison Howell 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Gary Hall 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Jeter Scheurman 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada R; Austin Caviness 1-5; Will Chambers 1-4, R, HR, RBI; Trent Prokes 2-4; Austin Sepulvada 1-4, R, 2B; Travis Welker 2-4, RBI.
Pitching – Alex Giroux 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB; Cole Phillip 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 0 BB.; Ryan Faulks 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Tommy Snyder 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB; Levi Kiuchi 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; David Morgan 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Kyler Stancato 1-4; Hunter Hirayama 1-4; Payton Allen 1-4.