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RC evens series in section finals rematch
BB--Mariposa-Ripon Christian pic 2
Ian Vrieling hit one of three Ripon Christian first-inning doubles. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

RIPON — Ripon Christian put up three first-inning doubles for four runs Thursday over visiting Mariposa and rode the steady arm of Willem Hoekstra to a 6-2 Southern League win.

The two teams met in the 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship game, with Mariposa winning, 11-7. Ripon Christian was able to salvage a series draw after dropping the opener earlier this week.

“Against these guys you want to try and get ahead early and take their bench out of it a little bit,” Knights coach John De Visser said. “That’s a good baseball team over there and we want to try and keep it a simple game of catch the ball and throw the ball.

“You have to get on top of these guys – they are way too good. They are last year’s section champion and have won the section a lot of times and they have had our number over the years.”

If there was a downside to the effort of Ripon Christian (1-1 SL, 5-3 overall) it was committing four errors, two of which led to the two Grizzlies runs.

“That’s 12 errors this week,” De Visser said. “We’re going to have to clean this up – we had eight (in a 13-3 loss at Mariposa) on Monday. There are no excuses. We have some stuff we have to work on.”

Hoekstra pitched 6.2 innings and struck out seven, walking one with three hits and no earned runs. Hoekstra was pulled due to his pitch count and relieved by Jadon Vander Molen, who ended the game with a three-pitch strikeout. 

“We’ve always had a rivalry against these guys,” Hoekstra said, “They beat us 13-3 on Monday and I wanted to get out here and make sure that didn’t happen again.”

Hoekstra did his part to make sure history did not repeat itself when he got the first of the three Knights first-inning doubles.

“I just jumped on a fast ball and didn’t let them mess with my timing,” Hoekstra said. “And I let my teammates do the rest. Teammates always come through

Hoekstra’s double put him at second and Jake Groshong at third with both of them coming in off of Vander Molen’s double. Brian Thomas and Vander Molen scored on Ian Vrieling’s two-out double for a 4-0 Ripon Christian lead. 

Groshong hit leadoff and reached base three times, getting hit by a pitch to start the game, singling in Kizer Vanderveer in the fourth and reaching on an error in the sixth, plating Vanderveer.  

“I just try and stay calm at the plate and do my job,” Groshong said. “I just try to execute – that’s what I was taught to do. That’s what I think when I get in the box.”

Vanderveer was 2 for 3 with two runs.

“We kept our approach and we were looking for those fastballs,” Vanderveer said. “We were getting plenty of them.

“Also, our team did a fantastic job of recognizing what they threw last game and carried it into today and kind of kept that motion going.”

Mariposa (1-1, 5-3) got their two runs in the third and fourth innings behind a pair of Knights errors. Leo Kari had an RBI double for the Grizzlies in the third.