STOCKTON – Sluggish Ripon Christian defense coupled with an opportunistic Mariposa attack knocked the Knights into the consolation bracket of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI baseball playoffs with a 7-2 semifinal win for the Grizzlies at Stagg High School.
Top-seeded Ripon Christian (19-7) managed just three hits as the pitching got stronger as the night went on for Mariposa (24-2). The No. 2 Grizzlies retired the last 11 Knights batters with the last five going down via strikeout.
“I have some guys with great arms,” Mariposa coach Justin Kleinsmith said. “And their confidence level at this time of the year shows that they are ready. They are throwing strikes that’s for sure.
“We knew that they were a tough team. One of our losses came to them and they put the ball in play but they helped us out with some extra bases and gave us that extra cushion that we needed.”
The Knights never led and as if not being able to focus with their bats was not enough, they committed five errors and allowed six passed balls.
“We are not an overly boisterous team to begin with, but we made a lot of mental mistakes,” Ripon Christian coach John De Visser said. “There were a lot of things we did today that just can’t happen. We missed a lot of spots on the mound today. Every bad miss we had today was to the exact spot we didn’t want to.
“You have to give them credit. That’s a really good-hitting team and when we made mistakes they crushed us on those mistakes.”
The Knights went into the bottom of the third trailing 4-0. Will Gilbert led off the frame for Ripon Christian by legging out a single to third. Drake Nelson advanced Gilbert to second on a sacrifice bunt, bringing leadoff batter Nolan Lingley to the plate. Lingley launched to first pitch he saw over the center-field fence to draw Ripon Christian within 4-2.
Ripon Christian threatened in the fourth inning. Dale Fisher led off with a single, Brock Nunes reached on an error and Joseph DeBruyn walked to load the bases with no out. A flyout and double play ended the threat and the Knights would not get another base runner.
Ripon Christian faces fifth-seeded Waterford on Wednesday night at 6 in an elimination game at Stagg High.