RIPON — Ripon Christian’s Willem Hoekstra baffled visiting Vacaville Christian from the mound Wednesday, allowing just three base runners behind only one hit as the No. 4 Knights blanked the fifth-seeded Falcons in a 10-0 five-inning mercy rule contest in opening-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff action.
“Will’s changeup was fantastic today and he threw a lot of quality strikes,” Ripon Christian coach John De Visser said. “Defensively, we made a couple of huge plays in the first couple of innings that set the tone defensively for how we were going to go and then the offense decided we were going to go out and go to hunt today which was a lot of fun.”
Hoekstra struck out six and walked one.
“I felt pretty confident out there,” Hoekstra said. “I was keeping them off balance, throwing a lot of off-speed and hitting my spots. The zone is a lot tighter in the playoffs, so making sure I didn’t miss my spots was important.
“Our defense has been stellar all year. I can trust my outfield, I can trust my infield — that’s always a bonus.”
The Knights (16-6-1) scored five runs in the first and another five in the fourth with just two hits in each inning. Hoekstra doubled in the first inning with Jadon Vander Molen (double, run) eventually scoring on that play. The big hit of the first inning was a two-RBI single by Brock Nunes.
“I got down in the count early,” Nunes said. “The he threw a couple of balls oput of the strike zone and I started battling them off.
“Once I got a pitch to hit I drove it to right field.”
In the fourth inning, Nolan Lingley doubled in Drake Nelson for Ripon Christian. Lingley scored on a wild pitch and Hoekstra came in on a Declan Van Vuren groundout. With the bases loaded Caleb Terpsma was hit by a pitch, scoring Dale Fisher, and Drake Nelson drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Nunes.
De Visser expected a different game out of Vacaville Christian (15-9).
“Honestly, this was a tough draw for us,” De Visser said. “I was anticipating a 3-2 or 2-1 game, having to scratch it out at the end, having to execute offensively at the end with whoever making the last mistake would end up losing the ball game. I didn’t see this. This is about as dominant a performance in the playoffs as we have had in the 10 years I have been here.
Ripon Christian advances to the double-elimination portion of the tournament, facing top-seeded Rio Vista at noon in Sacramento at McAuliffe Ballpark.