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Raiders rally to down Crusaders in opening playoff round yet again

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POSTED May 20, 2010 2:26 a.m.
LODI – Robbie De vries looked unstoppable in the first inning Wednesday night when he led his Ripon Christian Knights against the Sac Joaquin Section Division V’s No. 1 ranked team in Central Catholic.

But after fanning three straight batters in the first inning – including the fearsome Billy Flamion – Ripon Christian simply couldn’t catch a break in their 7-0 defeat during a first round playoff loss at Tony Zupo Field. It was the second time in as many years that the Raiders have knocked Ripon Christian out in the first round in Lodi.

While the scoreboard might have indicated a blowout, Ripon Christian head coach John De Visser didn’t see the performance his squad turned in as something to bow to their heads at.

“Baseball is one of those games where sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t, and I don’t think that score is indicative of how we played tonight – we just didn’t get the breaks when we needed them,” he said. “We battled all day long, and I don’t think that our kids have anything to be ashamed of when it comes to this game or this season.”

To Central Catholic’s credit, they did everything possible to put themselves in the situation to get the win and progress in a postseason tournament that they’ve been a regular staple of in recent years.

After a two-out rally led to a pair of runs in the third inning, Central Catholic put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in the fourth, putting additional pressure on De vries and the Ripon Christian defense. The outing would garner them three runs and de Vries back to the dugout.

De Visser, however, thought that some of the hardly hit balls that Central Catholic (20-2) was able to put into play in the deep confines on Zupo field had more to do than the mental status of his pitcher – noting that it could have been his best outing of the season thus far.

De vries struck out five in the contest.

“I think that he proved today in a very big way that he has what it takes to play baseball at the next level,” De Visser said. “He managed to strike out one of the best hitters in the Section twice, and threw as hard as he did all year. He just didn’t get the breaks that he needed.”

The Knights (16-8) left six runners on base in the contest when facing sophomore complete-game pitcher Chris Sauls – who instead of relying on his blow-past power used his solid defense to back him up – which would prove to be disastrous late in the game.

While Flacon finished 1 for 4 with an RBI in the contest, it was Justin Pawek who proved to be the most productive at the plate Central Catholic finishing the game 3 for 3 with both a pair of doubles and a pair of runs.

Ripon Christian, on the other hand, only struck out four times during the contest, and kept the ball in the play for the majority of the contest – forcing the Raiders to get them out.

“We had three guys hit shots than in any other park would have gone over the wall, but you’ve just gotta play where you’re at,” De vries said. “After the game was over I told my guys that was an absolute pleasure to be their coach this year. We knew that we had some top notch men that were ready to lead this team, and they don’t have anything to look down on themselves on.”
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