RIDGEFIELD — During a charmed season for the Ridgefield Raptors, there haven’t been many instances where the team was left wondering if they put forth their best effort.
But for Ridgefield head coach Chris Cota, there was no mincing words about the Raptors’ performance in a 9-2 loss to the Yakima Valley Pippins on Saturday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Put simply, the defeat was a rare dud for the Raptors (25-12). Cota let his team know it in their post-game meeting.
“As tough as it is to say, I don’t think our guys came ready to play today,” the skipper said. “We’ve been rolling a little bit, and sometimes when teams do that, they think they can just show up and it’s going happen. I had to let them have it a little bit right now.”
The Pippins (13-22) punched the Raptors in the mouth early with an offensive barrage that put the home team in an uncomfortable spot.
Yakima Valley swung away on Ridgefield, starting on the very first pitch of the game when leadoff hitter Zach Blaszak blasted a solo home run to right field to give the Pippins an instant 1-0 lead. The knocks kept coming in the second inning against Ridgefield starting pitcher Charlie Royle, with four more runs scoring, including a Tommy Eisenstat three-run homer to give Yakima Valley a 5-0 lead.
The final inning was akin to a series of upper cuts to deliver the knockout.
Ridgefield held the Pippins scoreless from the second inning onward until the ninth, when trailing 5-2. Spencer Shipman and Blaszak led off with base hits, then moved into scoring position when Ridgefield reliever Joseph Jasso was called for a balk.
Hank Dunn, Eisenstat and Maxim Fullerton then delivered three straight RBI singles. Combined with another run on a fielder’s choice, the Pippins held a commanding seven-run lead.
“I don’t think the guys were prepared to play, and part of that is probably the coaches’ fault,” Cota said. “At this point in the season with the way we’ve been rolling, these guys should be excited to get here and win ball games every night.”
The Raptors gave up 16 hits to Yakima Valley, but only compiled three of their own. Reiss Calvin, Jake Tsukada and Jackson Nicklaus each had one hit.
After Tsukada’s single in the third inning, the Raptors went without a hit for the remaining six innings against Yakima Valley pitchers Peyton Graham, Jackson Betancourt and Julian Taudin-Chabot.
“I thought we gave away a lot of at-bats,” Cota said. “Like I said, not being ready to play kind of encompasses the way we competed at the plate today.”
The rubber match of the series Sunday is slated to begin at 1:05 p.m. It will be Ridgefield’s final home game ahead of a three-game road series against the Edmonton Riverhawks.
“I expect (the team) to come ready to go tomorrow,” Cota said.
Pippins come out swinging – Once Yakima Valley’s Zach Blaszak hit a solo home run on the very first pitch of the game, the Pippins were off to the races. Yakima Valley pounded Ridgefield starting pitcher Charlie Royle for another four runs in the second inning on a Tommy Eisenstat three-run home run and Spencer Shipman RBI double. Yakima Valley took a 5-0 lead.
Two-out rally – Ridgefield scored both of its runs with two outs in the second inning. First, Reiss Calvin hit a ground-rule double to score Tristan Gomes. Jake Tsukada added an RBI single, brining in Cole Sheehan.
Gonzalez steadies the ship – Royle exited at the end of the second inning in favor of Andy Gonzalez, who threw four scoreless innings with five strikeouts and two hits allowed.
The highlight for the right-handed pitcher came in the fourth. After giving up a walk and a Hank Dunn single, Gonzalez struck out the side to strand two Pippins runners.
Reiss Calvin – On the heels of a 3-for-4 night in the series opener, Calvin started strong Saturday with an RBI double in the second inning.
Tommy Eisenstat – Eisenstat, one of Yakima Valley’s top hitters, went 3-for-5 with a home run and team-high four RBI.
Jake Tsukada – The University of Hawaii commit got on base in every plate appearance with one single and four walks.
16-3 – The disparity in hits between Yakima Valley and Ridgefield. The Pippins accounted for eight of those hits in the first two innings, while Ridgefield was held without a hit in the final six innings.
12 – Strikeouts compiled by Yakima Valley pitchers Peyton Graham (five), Jackson Betancourt (six) and Julian Taudin-Chabot (one).
14 – Ridgefield baserunners left on during the game.