Third-seeded Ripon Christian put up 10 runs on just four hits in the fifth and sixth innings Tuesday, but the Knights forced five errors for top-seeded Turlock Christian in those two frames on the way to an 11-3 win for Ripon Christian as the Knights claimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII baseball championship at Islander Field.
“We had to get guys on base and then start causing chaos,” Ripon Christian coach John de Visser said. “We were going to run, we were going to slash and run, we’re going to fake bunt steal, safety squeeze — we were going to do everything we could to cause as much chaos out there as possible, because they hadn’t been in many tight games.”
Coming on the heels of football and basketball, Eli Terpsma claimed his third championship hat of the year, and he did so in grand fashion. He took the mound in the third inning with the Knights (22-3) trailing 3-0. That was all the damage the Eagles (21-8) would do as Terpsma retired the first eight batters he faced, striking out the side in the fourth. He finished with seven strikeouts over five innings with one hit and one walk.
At the plate, he was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs, with one of those hits being an RBI single in the sixth inning that was a laser right up the middle.
“I can’t speak enough about Eli (Terpsma),” de Visser said. “He came on in the third inning and just pounded the zone with two pitches, kept them off balance the whole time. We built momentum and he got us right back into it. That first 1-2-3 inning lasted about a minute and a half and we kept rolling. We got 10 runs in two innings.”
In addition to forcing six errors, Ripon Christian bunted five times and stole nine bases.
“My guys executed the absolute snot out of things,” de Visser said. “Every time I put a sign down they did the thing. We had great jumps by the base runners because all that stuff only works if the batter executes and the guys on the bases do their thing.
“We didn’t miss a single sign tonight, and we had a lot of signs.”
This was not Terpsma’s first time in a jam.
“It’s happened before where I have come into a somewhat tough situation,” Terpsma said. “My mentality is just don’t let them get on base, and if they do, don’t let them get another base. One at a time. Keep it nice and calm.
“If I stay calm, I pitch good. That’s just how it’s been for me.”
The floodgates opened for the Knights on a tough-luck play for Turlock Christian. Trailing 3-1 with one out in the top of the sixth, No. 9 batter Logan Sauer launched a deep fly to right field that got lost in the sun. By the time the ball would be located, Sauer was on his way to third with a stand-up triple. He and the next four Ripon Christian batters would score and the Knights were off and running.
Sauer had doubts if he could hit hard-throwing left-hander Gavin Farinha, who came into the contest 10-1 with an ERA of 0.12.
“When I went up there I didn’t know if I could hit that guy,” Sauer said. “He is the hardest thrower we had seen all year. I went up there and started my motion early and got on time with the ball.”
In the sixth inning with two on for the Eagles and two out, Sauer made a highlight-reel catch in left field to end the threat and end the inning. Turlock Christian down in order in the seventh.
“I like making diving catches,” Sauer said. “I have made a couple this year and maybe that one wasn’t really necessary, but it was the third out and we were going to make it look good.”
Ripon Christian leadoff batter Grant Sonke reached base three times, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs. He tallied three of the Knights’ nine stolen bases.
“It’s like what coach said at the beginning of the game,” Sonke said. “Just get on base and create chaos.
“If you steal bags that’s creating chaos and a lot of weird things can happen. That’s when you put up crooked numbers and make this game exciting.
Dustin Hoekstra knocked in two runs for Ripon Christian in the sixth.
Rob York was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a run for the Eagles.
“We didn’t execute quite a few times,” Turlock Christian coach Bill York said. “The first nickel they put up, we didn’t execute and gave them a lot and then we did the same thing again.
“I’m super proud of them to get to this spot. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. You have the game plan in place and a few executions don’t go your way. They played hard all year and with young kids things kind of get away sometimes.”
The Knights now await the NorCal seedings which will be announced Sunday by the state California Interscholastic Federation office.