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DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Ripon can still make playoffs after getting swept by Orestimba

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DOWN BUT NOT OUT

/The Bulletintios Jordanoglou follows through on his RBI base hit in the fifth inning for Ripon.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED May 4, 2013 1:32 a.m.


The roller-coaster ride that is Ripon High’s baseball season has hit another valley.

The Indians were swept by Orestimba this week following Friday’s staggering 13-2 five-inning  loss at home.

The Warriors (7-3 Trans-Valley League, 14-6 overall), on the other hand, appear to be peaking at the right time. By sweeping Ripon, they hold a tiebreaking advantage and clinched a berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs, something that coach Matt Candelario says, “hasn’t happened for the school in a very long time.”

Orestimba has won five straight, and four of them were cut short by the mercy rule, including a 12-2 upset of TVL champion Escalon. Ace pitcher Tanner Pruett outdueled Ripon’s Caleb Rogers in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Orestimba.

“We came off a bye week last week and I was worried that we’d be a little rusty, but we just continued on from what we started the week before,” Candelario said. “Defense and pitching has really helped out, and we’ve been hitting the ball well. We’ve got some momentum going.”

Ripon was rolling behind a five-game winning streak heading into the Orestimba series. But the Indians (5-5, 13-11) lost their best offensive weapon, 6-foot-5 center fielder Dante Machado, to a season-ending torn labrum last week.

“Any time you lose a leader like that it hurts, but it’s the way sports is,” Ripon coach Marc Ortiz said. “Every team that loses a player like that is affected in some way, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. We have enough good ballplayers to fill that role. It’s unfortunate, but baseball doesn’t really care who’s on your team.”

Orestimba put Friday’s contest out of reach with an eight-run onslaught in the third inning. Ripon was done in by two errors, two walks and seven hits. Aaron Mota started off the inning with a triple and punctuated the rally with a two-run single to left. He finished 2 for 3 with two runs.

The Warriors added five more in the fifth to put the mercy rule in play. Cleanup batter Cameron Mar was 3 for 3 with two doubles and two runs. Ivan Luna finished 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs from the bottom third of the lineup.

Freshman Nick Price went 2 for 3 with a double, a triple and a run. He was driven in by Scott Robison’s single in the bottom of the third. Josh Clark reached on an error plated Ripon’s second run in the fifth after Fotios Jordanoglou laced single.

Orestimba southpaw Jake Lerno was otherwise stellar from the mound. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits and a walk.

“We didn’t play too well. We didn’t show up,” Ortiz said. “We had a little stretch there where we played well, doing all the little things right, but it seems like we’ve gotten back to our old ways.

“It’s just one of those days when a lot of things go wrong. In the position we’re in right now can’t really afford those. We hurt ourselves this week, but nothing is guaranteed. Next week is a big week, we’ll just see how things shake out.”

Ripon hosts Hilmar next Tuesday and finishes the regular season at Hilmar Wednesday. The Yellowjackets have been 10-runned four straight games and are coming off their league bye week.

Winning out would give the Indians their best shot at qualifying for the playoffs, but help is needed from the team that just swept them. Hughson (6-4, 15-7-1) is also vying for the third and final postseason berth with Orestimba left on its schedule.

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