Ripon Christian’s Dale Fisher stepped into the batter’s box with two out in the top of the seventh on Wednesday, representing the tying run in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI consolation final at Sierra High.
Having been on base three times, going 2 for 3 with an RBI, run and a walk, Fisher wasted little time trying to keep the line moving when he roped a shot right at the feet of Waterford shortstop Lucas Alaniz, who dove to make a shoestring catch and seal the No. 5 Wildcats’ 8-6 win.
It marks the end of the season for top-seeded Ripon Christian (19-8), which beat its Southern Athletic League rival twice in their previous three meetings including last Friday’s 7-3 winners-bracket victory.
“We made the quality pitches in the tough situations to get the outs we needed,” Ripon Christian coach John deVisser said. “But you can’t make as many errors as we did and expect to win a baseball game in the semifinals of the playoffs. Some of that has to be on me, I have to figure some of that stuff out.
“I feel bad for the seniors going out this way. If we had battled these guys in a clean game and we lose one or two to nothing, I have no problem with that. But is a horrible feeling, a terrible feeling, to go out like this. It’s just sad.”
The Knights stranded 12 on the base paths. They loaded the bases with no outs in the third and fifth innings, getting two runs in each. In the third, Brock Nunes (2 for 3, two RBI, run) singled in Caleb Terpsma and Nunes scored on a bases-loaded walk to Drake Nelson, making the score 5-3. Ripon Christian lost a run in the frame when a runner left too early on an attempted sacrifice fly, being ruled out on appeal.
In the fifth, Jay Hoekstra walked, Drake Nelson (2 for 4, run) singled and Nolan Lingley reached on an error for Ripon Christian. Hoekstra scored on a wild pitch and Nelson on a passed ball, getting Lingley to third with no out only for three consecutive strikeouts to end the frame.
Waterford (16-12) scored in every inning with the Knights committing errors in three innings and a fielding miscue in another.
Lucas Alanis led Waterford, going 3 for 4 with two runs, and Michael Vivo Jr. had a two-RBI single for the Wildcats.
Waterford got off to a poor start this year, beset by injuries but has rebounded to play for the section championship Monday against No. 2 Mariposa, another SAL club.
“I am proud of these guys,” Wildcats coach Michael Vivo said. “We started off our season 1-6 with a bunch of injuries. We have been battling through. We bent today but we didn’t break. We put the ball in play and we forced people to make plays. We got some really clutch hits.
“We kind of get dismissed a lot because like Ripon Christian, we are a small school. But now we are going to play for a section title and that has not happened too often in the history of Waterford. It’s really nice.”
The championship round begins Monday morning at 10 at a site to be determined.