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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

Ridgefield Raptors heat up for season-high 16 hits to down Walla Walla Sweets

Raptors see production throughout lineup in 6-2 win — their fourth straight

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 9, 2024, 11:30pm

RIDGEFIELD — If you believe in superstitions, like some Ridgefield Raptors players, the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave can be considered somewhat of a fortuitous thing.

Since last Friday’s series-opening win against the Cowlitz Black Bears, the Raptors’ hot bats have been the main driver behind a four-game winning streak.

The latest, a 6-2 win over the Walla Walla Sweets on Tuesday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, included a season-high 16 runs with the likes of Luke Iverson (4-for-4) and Justin Stransky (3-for-4) leading a potent lineup.

Because of the heat, which reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit in Ridgefield late Tuesday afternoon, the Raptors have been using the indoor Ridgefield Fieldhouse as home base for batting practice. They’ve averaged 10 runs and 11.5 hits per game over that recent stretch to begin the second half of the West Coast League season.

Coincidence? Depends on who you ask.

“Baseball is a really superstitious game,” said Iverson, who was named to the West Coast League All-Star team along with Ridgefield pitcher Dylan Stewart earlier Tuesday.

“We were actually just talking about it — it’s been super hot out, so we’ve gotten to hit in our facility. … We like to blame it on that, but in reality, I think we’re really just playing loose. It’s that second half of the season, we’ve reached that second half and in baseball you hope to reach your peak in that second half. I think right now that’s where we’re at.”

The Raptors did most of their damage during a five-run second inning with the likes of Stransky, Jack Salmon, Kyle Memarian, Andrew Grenert, Iverson and Hunter Katschke all contributing base hits.

With a 5-0 lead, Ridgefield starting pitcher Isaiah Magdaleno had plenty of room to work with. The 6-foot-3 right-hander earned his second win of the season, going five innings with four strikeouts, two walks, four hits and two runs allowed, though neither were earned.

At the plate, aside from Iverson and Stransky, Dasan Harris, Katschke, Salmon and Memarian each collected multiple hits.

“We’re a little bit more selective at the plate, and it’s working out our way offensively,” Ridgefield head coach Chris Cota said.

“It’s nice to everybody roll through and compete at the plate. Hopefully we can continue doing that with other guys too. We’ll see. I think we’re feeling pretty good right now.”

Ridgefield (14-16) is now 4-0 in the second half of WCL play and appears to be hitting the reset button after an up and down first month of the season.

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The Raptors closed the first half by dropping three straight against the Corvallis Knights in a July 2-4 series, though two of the three games were decided by one run. Even though they came up short, by pushing the league-leading Knights (23-5) in all three games, the Raptors gained confidence going into the stretch run.

“I noticed in the team, none of us were down about it,” Iverson said. “It’s funny, Cota came out (to talk to the team), we ended up losing a couple of those games by one run, we were like, ‘Uh, he’s not going to be too happy.’ He came out and just said, ‘You know, you guys played hard. Great, great job.’ I think we all just went back and thought about it, ‘You know, we did play hard.’” … Mentally, I think that was a big realization that we are that good, that we play really well together and we work really well together.”

Ridgefield will go for its fifth straight win in game two against Walla Walla (9-22) on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m.

Three moments

Hitting their stride – Ridgefield racked up nine hits over the first two innings, which yielded five runs in the second. The inning started with three straight base hits from Justin Stransky, Jack Salmon and Kyle Memarian — the latter intended to be a sacrifice bunt that led to a hit after a Walla Walla fielding error.

Andrew Grenert knocked in the first run, Dasan Harris added a sacrifice fly and Memarian scored on an error. Hunter Katschke then knocked in two more runs on a base hit up the middle to spot the Raptors a 5-0 lead.

No time wasted – Walla Walla trimmed its five-run deficit by getting two runs back in the top of the third on a Logan Myers single to score Kennedy Hara and David Mysza. The play was made possible after Grenert, Ridgefield’s second baseman, caught a fly ball for the second out, but committed an error attempting to turn a double play.

Free run – The Raptors looked to add to its lead in the sixth with runners on the corners following singles from Harris and Iverson. Though they were unable to add another hit, Harris scored from third base on an error across the infield to put the Raptors ahead 6-2.

Three players

Hunter Katschke – The Utah Tech outfielder increased his team-leading batting average to .359 with two hits and two RBI.

Justin Stransky – The Fresno State product went 3-for-4 to post a fourth multi-hit game over his last five starts.

Isaiah Magdaleno – Making his first start of the season and fifth appearance overall, the Hawai’i product threw five innings with four strikeouts, two walks, four hits and two runs allowed (zero earned) to grab his second win of the season.

Three numbers

16 – Hits tallied by the Raptors, all singles, to set a new season high.

7 – Consecutive losses for Walla Walla after Tuesday’s defeat, the longest active skid in the West Coast League.

7:34 – Time of first pitch for Tuesday’s game, moved back from its original 6:35 p.m. start time to adjust to the 102-degree high temperature measured in Ridgefield earlier Tuesday.