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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

Ridgefield Raptors ride solid pitching to 3-1 win over Yakima Valley

Gillis shakes off early homer as Raptors clinch series win

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: July 16, 2023, 4:24pm

RIDGEFIELD  – After giving up a towering home run, many pitchers would focus on keeping their emotions level.

Not Brock Gillis.

“Some pitchers vary with this. But me, I use it,” the Ridgefield Raptors pitcher said. “It made me a little bit mad. I let that be my fuel for the next few batters. Throw harder and challenge them even more.”

That’s exactly what Gillis did after allowing a long home run to start the second inning Sunday. The University of Portland righty shut down Yakima Valley in Ridgefield’s 3-1 win at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

After Jace Phelan launched a ball well over the right field fence that nearly cleared the grassy berm, Gillis responded by striking out the side.

Making his second start of the season, Gillis struck out seven in five innings, allowing four hits and one walk. In eight innings, he has allowed just Sunday’s lone run.

Relievers Jake Geis and Camden Oram followed with four scoreless innings as Ridgefield’s pitchers allowed just eight baserunners (five hits, three walks).

“I’ve always felt the starter sets the tone for how the bullpen comes in,” Gillis said. “That rang true today. Our bullpen came in and kept throwing strikes.”

Backing Gillis was an excellent defensive game by catcher Justin Stransky, who threw out both runners who tried to steal second Sunday.

After the Pippins put runners on second and first with two outs in the ninth, Stransky ended the game by picking off the runner at first.

“It’s massive, honestly,” Gillis said of Stransky’s defense. “Sometimes having guys on base can screw with your mojo on the mound, especially if they’re threatening to steal. With a catcher who is going to throw guys out, it puts your mind at ease.”

After a 9-2 loss Saturday, Ridgefield (26-12) bounced back to win its third straight series and the ninth in its last 10.

Three moments

Stacking hits – After managing just three hits Saturday, Ridgefield had that many with two outs in the third. After Jack Salmon and Reiss Calvin singled, Jake Tsukada laced a double down the right field line, driving home two and giving the Raptors a 2-1 lead.

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Valuable insurance – Ridgefield boosted its lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning when Trent Prokes’ sacrifice fly drove in Jackson Nicklaus. Though the Raptors had runners on second and third with no outs, the inning’s lone run loomed large for a Ridgefield pitching staff that was in a groove Sunday.

Elevated play – Nicklaus leapt to snag a sharp line drive at second base in the eighth. He has 38 putouts, which is fourth highest among West Coast League second basemen, and just one error.

Three players

Reiss Calvin – The Ridgefield leadoff hitter had two hits, both coming with two outs. Calvin raised his batting average to .298 has hit safely in 11 of 12 games he has played since joining the Raptors on July 4.

Justin Stransky – It’s not wise to run on the Ridgefield catcher. Stransky threw out two runners trying to steal second base in the first three innings. Stransky’s 19 defensive assists lead the league. Stransky also stole two bases, giving him four on the season.

Camden Oram – After winning his last two starts, the Ridgefield pitcher came out of the bullpen Sunday to pitch the final three innings. He faced the minimum in the seventh and eighth before allowing a leadoff walk and a two-out single in the ninth. But Stransky’s pickoff ended the game and let Oram wrap up his third save of the season.

Three numbers

2 – Times Ridgefield has lost back-to-back games not including the season’s opening series, which Corvallis swept 3-0.

5 for 5 – Ridgefield’s success in stealing bases Sunday. Ridgefield has picked its chances wisely. While the Raptors’ 48 stolen bases rank in the middle of the WCL, only eight runners have been caught stealing. That’s the second-fewest in the league.

950 – Miles Ridgefield will travel on Tuesday before starting a three-game series in Edmonton. The Raptors will fly there via Calgary on Tuesday morning. After finishing the three-game series against the River Hawks Thursday night, Ridgefield will fly to Abbotsford, B.C. at 2:30 a.m. before boarding a bus back to Ridgefield on Friday morning.

RIDGEFIELD 3, YAKIMA VALLEY 1 (click here for boxscore)