RIDGEFIELD – More often than not in recent games, the Ridgefield Raptors have had a penchant for coming through in the clutch.
On Tuesday, it was Jacob Sharp scoring the game-winning, walk-off run on a wild pitch in the ninth to down the Portland Pickles.
One day later, the Raptors came back from an early deficit and took a 4-3 lead on a Sharp home run in the sixth inning. But the Raptors were still looking for some insurance in case of a late Portland rally.
That’s where Isaac Lovings came into the fold.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, facing a 1-2 count, Lovings sliced a hit down the right field line that cleared the bases and allowed Ridgefield to exhale. Ridgefield held Portland scoreless in the final two innings to pick up a 7-3 win and clinch the series with a chance at a sweep to come Thursday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Center.
It’s the fourth straight series win for the Raptors (14-8), currently sitting in second place of the West Coast League South Division standings behind the first-place Corvallis Knights.
“I think we’re just steady, and most of the guys trust the work they put in,” Lovings said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Lovings’ three-run double in the seventh salvaged what was almost a missed opportunity for the Raptors.
Travis Welker and Jake Tsukada earned back-to-back walks, then Mikey Kane singled to load the bases. But the following batter, Trent Prokes, grounded into a fielder’s choice and Portland got the force out and home plate. Sharp then struck out for the second out.
Next up was Lovings, who got behind on a 1-2 count to Portland pitcher Ryan Faulks, but connected on a line drive that stayed fair down the right field line.
“I felt good with the first swing even though I missed it,” Lovings said. “Swing felt good, so I was pretty confident with that. At that point, I saw his slider, knew to lay off that. His change-up was pretty good, but I was ready for his fastball next so I shortened up my swing a little bit, and I got it done. (I) made sure to stay inside of the ball and drive it all the way.”
Following a Jacob Sharp RBI single in the first, Ridgefield was held to just one hit over the next three innings against Pickles starter Jason Doktorczyk.
The Raptors cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth following base hits from Austin Caviness and Alex Sepulveda. Caviness scored from third on a Travis Welker ground out.
They took the lead for good in the sixth on Sharp’s three-run home run.
“Offensively, we’ve started to have more productive at-bats, better at-bats and it’s been positive all around,” Lovings said.
A rope and two runs – Portland took a 3-1 lead in the third thanks to a Keith Jones II RBI base hit roped over the Raptors’ infield, before another Pickles run scored on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. Ridgefield catcher Isaac Lovings made the third out by throwing out Nick Upstill attempting to steal second base.
Sharp like a dagger – Jacob Sharp’s third home run in two days was an important one, as it gave the Raptors a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning. The home run left Sharp’s bat at 101 miles per hour and traveled 347 feet to left field.
Closing time – The Raptors turned to Jett Lodes (Oklahoma) to close the game out when he subbed on for Tyler Tilton to begin the eighth inning. Lodes struck out four of the final six Pickles batters, and third baseman Travis Welker made a sliding grab in foul territory for the final out.
Jake Tsukada – Batting leadoff, the University of Portland product led the Raptors with a 3-for-3 effort and scored a pair of runs.
Aiden Vestbie – Two hitless innings with two strikeouts from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University pitcher helped the Raptors stem the tide in the fifth and sixth.
Keith Jones II – The lefty power hitter led the Pickles with a 2-for-4 effort, which included an RBI single in the third inning to put the visitors ahead 2-1.
6 – Home runs for Sharp this season, which tops the West Coast League. Edmonton’s Ivan Brethowr ranks second with five home runs.
2 – Throw outs from Ridgefield catcher Isaac Lovings on Portland runners attempting to steal second.
1,235 – Estimated attendance for Wednesday’s game at the RORC, the second game in a row above 1,200 fans.
RIDGEFIELD 7, PORTLAND 3
Portland 012 000 000—3 7 0
Ridgefield 100 012 30x— 7 10 0
Pitching – Jason Doktorczyk 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 K, 0 BB; Levi Kiuchi 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 K, 2 BB.; Kahiau Schenk 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Ryan Faulks 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Eddie Saldivar Jr. 1-4; Payton Allen 1-4, R; Keith Jones II 2-4, RBI; Nick Upstill RBI; Kyle Russell 1-4, HR; Jacob Jablonski 1-3; Kyler Stancato 1-4.
Pitching – Brayden Marcum 4 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Aiden Vestbie 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB; Tyler Tilton 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 2 BB; Jett Lodes 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada 3-3, 2 R; Mikey Kane 1-4, R; Trent Prokes 2 R; Jacob Sharp 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI; Isaac Lovings 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Austin Caviness 1-2, R; Alex Sepulveda 2-4; Travis Welker RBI.