PORTLAND – It was a story the Ridgefield Raptors had seen play out on a few occasions already this season – build an early lead before watching it evaporate late.
On Wednesday, the Portland Pickles came back from a 5-1 deficit and scored the game-tying run, down to their last out in the ninth, on a Ridgefield error to send the game to extras.
With momentum and the home crowd on the Pickles’ side at Walker Stadium, the Raptors were suddenly in an uncomfortable position.
Yet on this night, the Raptors didn’t waver. Travis Welker dropped an RBI single into right field to give the visitors the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th, and left-handed pitcher Sam Boyle (Columbia River/University of Washington) picked up the save by closing out a 6-5 win in the bottom half of the inning.
It was the fourth straight win for Ridgefield (10-6) and secured a series win over Portland (7-5), with one game left to play Thursday at Walker Stadium. The win also jumped the Raptors up to a tie for second place in the West Coast League South Division standings, while the Pickles fell to fourth.
“Our team came out well, never giving up and just staying locked into the game,” said Welker, who churned out four hits on the night with two RBI. “Definitely big to get the second win on the road and win our first (road) series.”
The Raptors had a runner in scoring position after a Trent Prokes single followed by a Doyle Kane sacrifice bunt to move Prokes into scoring position at second. Then came Welker, who faced a 1-2 count against Portland reliever Gary Grosjean, but was able to connect on the next pitch and find a spot in shallow right.
“Honestly, he blew a fastball by me, and that was like an ‘Angels in the Outfield’ moment right there guiding that baseball down the line,” Welker said with a smile. “All glory to God for having that one bloop in and glad we could get the win. Our guys worked their butts off and those guys got on for me to hit a little bloop shot, so praise the Lord for that.”
Portland forced extra innings in an unusual way. With two outs in the ninth, Keith Jones II hit a high fly ball toward Ridgefield left fielder Alex Sepulvada, who appeared to have a read on the play, but overran the ball and watched as it dropped to his left. That allowed Wyatt King to score the game-tying run from second.
That sequence followed a two-run eighth inning from the Pickles. The first came on a bases-loaded walk from Sawyer Parkin, and the second on a Tyler Tilton wild pitch. Following the latter run, Tilton got a strikeout and a line out to Welker at third base to end the inning.
“I would say the biggest thing is, guys are trusting the guys behind them, knowing if they don’t succeed, the guy behind them is going to pick them up,” Welker said. “Just trusting that we’re good hitters, we have good approaches and knowing that no matter what the game throws at us, just having the same approach.”
Coming out firing – The Raptors wasted no time getting started early with their first two batters, Jake Tsukada and Mikey Kane, hitting a single and double, respectively in the top of the first. Jacob Sharp grounded into an RBI to score Tsukada. In the following inning, Doyle Kane scored on a Welker RBI single to give Ridgefield a 2-0 lead.
Fumble on the play – Ridgefield scored three runs in the fifth inning, and the latter two were made possible after Doyle Kane put a ball in play toward Pickles short stop Jackson Van De Brake, which he fumbled as he tried to gather and throw to first for the would-be third out. Tsukada scored as a result, and Sepulvada tacked on an RBI single to score Sharp.
Keen means business – Three straight Portland hits in the sixth, including a Dalton Mashore RBI double, prompted Ridgefield to call on Isaac Keen to get out of a jam. Keene promptly got the next two outs (one on a strikeout) to strand a pair of Pickles runners, and catcher Riley McCarthy got on top of a couple wild pitches to hold runners at second and third base.
Brayden Marcum – Another promising day on the mound for Ridgefield started with Marcum, the left-handed pitcher from Lower Columbia College, who went four innings with four strikeouts, three hits and one earned run given up.
Michael Campagna – Portland’s catcher and five-hitter scored first for the Pickles on a solo home run and had two RBI on the night.
Sam Boyle – Ridgefield called on the lefty out of Columbia River High and University of Washington commit as the closer in the 10th. Boyle needed just 11 pitches (seven strikes) to finish the job with a ground out, strikeout and fly out to shallow right.
12 – Scoreless innings of the series Portland had until breaking through in the fourth with a Campagna solo home run.
10 – Wins for each of the top three teams in the WCL’s South Division, led by the first-place Corvallis Knights (10-1). Ridgefield and the Bend Elks have identical, 10-6 records.
14 – Combined number of pitchers who saw the mound in Wednesday’s game, including eight for Ridgefield.
RIDGEFIELD 6, PORTLAND 5 (10 innings)
Ridgefield 110 030 000 1—6 12 3
Portland 000 101 021 0—5 7 1
Pitching – Brayden Marcum 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 0 BB; Eastyn Culp 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Isaac Keen 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Andy Evans 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Sawyer Parkin 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 2 BB; Tyler Tilton 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB; Michael Lozano 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB; Sam Boyle 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada 1-5, 2 R; Mikey Kane 1-3, 2B; Jacob Sharp 1-4, R, 2B, RBI; Will Chambers 1-4; Trent Prokes 1-5, R; Austin Sepulvada 1-5, RBI; Travis Welker 4-5, R, 2 RBI.
Pitching – Jason Doktorczyk 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 0 BB; Evan Tomlinson 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 0 BB; Oscar Lepe 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Luke Folsom 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Spencer Howell 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB; Gary Grosjean 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Drake Anderson 2-4, 2 R; Keith Jones II 2-5, R; Dalton Mashore 1-4, 2B, RBI; Michael Campagna 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI; Blake Wink 1-1; Wyatt King R.