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Following slow start, Ridgefield Raptors regroup for 3-2 win over Edmonton Riverhawks

Raptors let loose, sharpen their play to grab first win of the season

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 3, 2024, 10:51pm

RIDGEFIELD — Ridgefield Raptors catcher Luke Iverson believes he plays his best baseball when having fun.

Likewise, the same can be said for an entire Raptors team that didn’t allow back-to-back shutout defeats to dampen their spirits.

After twice being blanked by the Portland Pickles with a combined six hits over two games Friday and Saturday, the Raptors revived their bats in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Riverhawks on Monday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

Iverson, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles, sensed the team was loose from the start of the day and it set the tone for a quality win hours later.

“We’re just a gritty team and that was a gritty win,” said Iverson, a Utah Valley University player.

“Not letting failure get to us. Obviously, we had a rough start and we always had confidence. We all know how good we are and we played how good we are today. … When I say we’re loose, we’re out there swinging the bat, swinging at our pitch, staying on our plan.”

Ridgefield’s Kyle Memarian (Skyview/Gonzaga) scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh on a passed ball that came after Jack Salmon hit a two-out, ground-rule double to move the Raptors’ leadoff hitter to third base.

Ryan McClaskey (Camas/Lower Columbia College) earned the save after entering the game to start the ninth. He struck out Edmonton’s first batter, then got help from outfielders Justin Tsukada and Salmon who caught back-to-back fly balls on the run for the final two outs.

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Perhaps the most encouraging sign was Ridgefield’s offense warming up with seven hits, which included two each from Salmon and Iverson, and an Elliot Brown RBI single to score Jack Nehler for a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Edmonton (1-3) took a 2-1 lead in the sixth after Ridgefield starting pitcher Carson Revay exited in favor of Dillon Kirksey. Taichi Nakao hit a game-tying RBI single and Jonny McGill scored the go-ahead run when a Kirksey pitch hit batter Rex Watson with the bases loaded.

Swiftly, the Raptors (1-2) responded in the bottom half of the inning. Iverson led off with a double, then knotted the game at 2-2 when he tagged up from third base and slid head-first into home plate following an Edmonton out caught in foul territory.

Aside from Edmonton’s two runs in the sixth, Ridgefield limited the visitors’ damage thanks to a strong, error-free showing on defense and five shutdown innings on the mound from Revay, a left-handed pitcher from Fresno State who finished with five strikeouts, zero walks and four hits allowed.

“The sign of a great pitcher is somebody who adapts throughout the game and Carson did that,” said Iverson. “He started very fastball-heavy from the beginning. When we saw they were getting on him a little bit, he adjusted, mixed in a little bit better and really just pounded his spots with all of his pitches. Obviously with the scoreboard, you could see that it worked.”

Among summer collegiate baseball teams that are pieced together and introduced over a short amount of time, it’s an oft-used cliché to say a group needs time to jell.

To an extent, Iverson agrees with that premise, though in less than a week playing together, he already sees plenty of potential with this Raptors team.

“I think it’s a special group,” Iverson said. “Because there’s a lot of, in baseball, what we call ‘glue guys’ on this team. Guys that are easy to get along with, guys you can talk to and (say), ‘OK, these are not only my teammates, but my friends.’ It’s a group of buddies, definitely, so it’s easy to work together and have fun.”

BOXSCORE: RIDGEFIELD 3, EDMONTON 2

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