John de Visser couldn’t remember the last time his team rallied back down two runs in its final at-bat.
But that’s what happened during Ripon Christian High’s 11-6 Valley Oak League victory over rival Ripon High at the Mistlin Sports Complex on Thursday.
The Knights (3-3 VOL) were down 6-4 in the top of the seventh inning, stringing together seven runs to pull out the win — their third in a row. Ripon Christian completed a season sweep of Ripon in the process.
“It started out with a bloop single and then a safety squeeze,” de Visser said of his team’s big rally.
Not lost in the shuffle was a valiant effort by the Indians (1-6 VOL).
“We competed the entire game,” said RHS coach Bobby Swedberg of his young team. “It was a back-and-forth game. We put a lot of ball in play.”
The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an unearned run and an RBI-single by Devon Bacon.
RC tied the game up at 2-2 in the third. Duston Hoekstra led off with a single and eventually scored on an error. Caleb Terpsma, who was just warming up at the plate, delivered a run-scoring single to center.
Ripon jumped back on top in the home half of the frame. Nate Martinez singled to lead off the inning, swiped second, scooted to third on a fielder’s choice, a scored on a throwing error.
In the fourth, the Knights scored twice to grab a 4-3 advantage. Terpsma delivered home Zach Varni and Jay Hoekstra — both reached base on consecutive one-out hits.
The Indians reclaimed the lead in the fifth by stringing together three runs. Chase Stephenson and Martinez reached base safely, and Korbin Hodgson tied the game on an RBI single. Bacon then dropped a nicely placed bunt, reaching first to load the bases.
Freshman first baseman Owen Wilbur, who doubled earlier in the game, drew a walk to drive in a run and fellow freshman Dawson Downs plated Hodgson with a sacrifice fly.
Stephenson, who was the starting pitcher for Ripon, was locked in a groove, retiring seven of the next eight batters.
By the seventh, he reached his pitch count and the RC bats came alive led by Caleb Terpsma, who had two of his four hits in the inning. The big blow was his two-run double that capped off the seven-run offensive explosion.
Terpstra also drove in five runs for the game.
“Caleb was phenomenal,” said de Visser, who used his standout senior in the closing role — Terpstra tossed a scoreless seventh.
The RC coach also praised junior hurler Andrew Clark, who came on in relief of freshman starter Hoekstra. “He kept the game from getting out of hand,” de Visser said.
Joseph DeBruyn, Jacob Kowes, Eli Terpsma, Micah English, Varni, and Jay and Duston Hoekstra all scored in the seventh.
RC had 16 hits, including two each by Will Gilbert, Jay Hoekstra, Duston Hoekstra and Varni.
Ripon collected eight hits led by Bacon, who had two.
“We’re young but our team competes every day,” Swedberg said.