RIPON — Needing a win to keep up with the Trans-Valley League’s postseason contenders, Ripon’s recent struggles continued Friday in an 11-7 loss to Hilmar.
The visiting Yellowjackets (3-5 TVL, 11-9 overall), who were waxed 12-2 in the series opener Wednesday, took advantage of six walks, four hit batters and five errors to overcome an early three-run deficit.
Ripon (2-5, 11-8) has now dropped six of its last seven and trails third-place Modesto Christian by three games with five to go in league play. Only three TVL teams qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“Just not doing our job,” Ripon assistant coach Danite Machado said. “At the end of the day, you have to make plays and we’re not making them. We haven’t been executing lately. It’s frustrating. As a team we’re trying our best but it’s not going our way.”
The game started out as a continuation of Wednesday’s contest. The Indians’ first three batters reached, and Gerald Nix (2 for 3, three steals) drove in a run and scored another on a passed ball as they jumped ahead 4-1.
Hilmar did not get discouraged. The Yellowjackets scored in every inning but the third and recaptured the lead at 6-5 on Blake Barker’s RBI double to left in the fourth. Ripon tied it back up in the bottom half when Carson Henry was hit by a pitch, advanced on a double from John Eicher (2 for 4) and scored on a passed ball.
Hilmar then plated five unanswered runs while holding off the Indians with clutch pitching from sophomore brothers Treven and Trent Crowley.
“Our backs have been against the wall all season — it’s been a rollercoaster,” Hilmar coach Bobby Swedberg said. “We capitalized on some mistakes on their end and put some pressure on them, but when you do that you give yourselves a chance.”
Treven Crowley batted 3 for 3 with two walks, three runs and a RBI from the top of the Yellowjackets order. From the pitcher’s mound, he overcame four walks with eight strikeouts — three of them coming in the fourth when Ripon had its first three batters reach and left the bases loaded.
Ripon again stranded three runners, as Trent Crowley induced three outfield popups. Trent allowed one unearned run in three innings. Ripon took advantage of two errors in the seventh to plate its final run.
“We left a lot of guys on all game,” Machado said. “I don’t think there’s one moment that kept us from winning this game.”
There is much work for Ripon to do as it heads into the final two weeks of the regular season. On Monday, it welcomes Valley for a nonleague contest. The Indians then have two-game sets with Riverbank and first-place Mountain House bookending a make-up game at Hughson.
“We’re just going to keep working hard. We don’t know how the rest of the season is going to pan out, but right now it’s about pride. Whether we make playoffs or not we want to win every game, especially for the seniors who are possibly playing their last six games of their baseball careers.”
Sierra 3, Oakdale 0
Matt Dunham was 2 for 3 with a triple and a run to lead the Timberwolves to a Valley Oak League win on Thursday.
Leadoff batter Steve Eaves doubled to start the game for Sierra and scored on a hit by Thomas DeShawn. In the second inning Maurico Arnoldus reached on an error and scored on Kenny Kuwada’s sacrifice bunt and after singling in the sixth Dunham scored on a flyout by Jesse Davies.
Manteca 9, Lathrop 1
LATHROP — Isaiah Perez struck out eight in a four-hitter while going 2 for 5 with a double and a RBI at the plate for the Buffaloes (7-3 VOL, 16-4-1 overall) on Thursday.
Kaden Luke finished 3 for 4 with a RBI. Matthew Murray added a triple and a run.