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BASEBALL: Ripon still in playoff hunt despite loss
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RIPON — Ripon High's postseason baseball hopes suffered a setback Tuesday with a 2-1 Trans-Valley League loss to visiting Hughson.
"We're battling for our playoff lives," said Indians coach Jacob Rodriguez, whose team travels to Huskies home field in today's regular-season finale.
Ripon (6-5 TVL, 11-11 overall) could also use outside help with first-place Livingston taking on Modesto Christian. The Indians need Livingston to sweep MC this week and end with a split against Hughson. Livingston won 3-0 on Tuesday and leads Hughson (8-3, 19-4-2) by a game.
Against Hughson, the Indians behind starter John Eicher worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation in first inning.
Ripon wasn't as fortunate in the following frame as Hughson pushed across a pair of runs.
Jeremiah Langan's two-out single plated Luke Madsen, who reached on a hit. Derek Avila and Armando Espitia kept the two-out rally going with a hit and RBI single, respectively.
Much like the first inning, Ripon escaped damages in the third and fourth despite dropped fly balls that occurred in both frames.
"Eicher competed on the mound," Rodriguez said. "He's been battling all year long."
Indicative of that was in the fifth when Eicher made a diving grab to rob the Huskies of a sacrifice bunt.
Catcher Brandon Rainer also helped out, gunning down a runner trying to swipe second, with shortstop Gerald Mix covering the bag.
Hughson pitcher Eliot Kee, meanwhile, faced one batter over the limit entering the fifth, including retiring nine straight. He surrendered hits to Nethanial Stum and Vincent Olmo only to get out of the inning unscathed. His shortstop Langan kept the Indians off the scoreboard by getting the putout at home.
Ripon finally broke through in the sixth. Brandon Molthen open with a hit, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and made it to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a high throw from third on the attempted play at the plate.
Madsen relieved Kee, who went 5 2/3 innings, yielding a walk to Olmo to load the bases.
"We knew they weren't going to give Vince anything good to hit," Rodriguez said of his 6-foot-9 senior slugger.
After that, Madsen set down next four batters in order for the save. He and Brian Haslam had two hits each for the Huskies. Stum had a pair of hits for the Indians.