RIPON — Nolan Lingley was an out away from wrapping up a tidy one-hit masterpiece against Mariposa on Friday.
True to form, Ripon Christian made things interesting in its 7-3 win over the previously-undefeated Grizzlies.
“Every seventh inning has been a little fidgety this season,” the Knights’ pitching ace said.
Mariposa (7-1 Southern League, 13-1 overall) had Ryan Leonard on base with two out when Jaq Quinn drilled a sharp single to left field. Two pitches later, Jake Swift ruined Lingley’s bid for a shutout with a triple to center, and he scored after the throw to third went out of play.
Lingley induced a groundball to shortstop Will Gilbert for the final out. The defending SL champion Knights (8-2, 12-5) were able to breathe a sigh of relief after botching a two-run lead in the seventh inning and losing 7-6 on a bases-loaded walk Wednesday at Mariposa.
“We should have beaten them twice, but it’s good to know that going into the playoffs we can play with the best of them,” Lingley said. He struck out five, walked two and hit two. The only hit he gave up in the first six innings came in the fourth, and Logan Donati’s well-placed shot didn’t leave the infield dirt as Gilbert made a nice diving stop to his right.
Ripon Christian only had four hits but was aided by five errors, three walks and two hit batters. The biggest blow came in the bottom of the first, when Brock Nunes cracked a three-run double to left after falling behind 0-2 in the count. Nunes later scored on Ian Vrieling’s groundout to spot Lingley a 4-0 lead.
“When the moment comes you just have to clutch up,” Nunes said.
Knights coach John DeVisser was glad somebody did, adding that his club has struggled in bases-loaded situations this season.
“That was absolutely massive,” he said. “We’ve needed that for a long time.”
Mariposa starter Michael Medina was replaced by Swift at the start of the second inning. Swift did well to stall Ripon Christian’s early roll, finishing with six strikeouts while giving up three runs (two earned) in five relief innings.
“He was a little bit slower, but we knew we couldn’t let off the gas,” Nunes said of Swift. “We didn’t want what happened last time to happen again.”
The Knights got an insurance run in the fourth when Lingley and Declan Van Vuren tagged back-to-back two-out doubles. Lingley was walked in his other three plate appearances and scored three times. He and Van Vuren plated RC’s final two runs in the sixth.
“Everything I asked of the kids today, they executed,” DeVisser said. “Adding those runs in the end is huge. The tack-on runs are always big, but I have to figure out how we can get that last out.”
Ripon Christian will take two weeks off from game action and next face Woodland Christian on the road for a non-league doubleheader on April 27.