STOCKTON — Ripon gave Linden a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday, took a one-run lead in the top of the seventh and then held on for dear life in the bottom of the seventh and came away with a thrilling 5-4 win in the United Way’s Banner Island Baseball Classic.
“It’s a win,” Indians coach Jake Rodriguez said. “It was great to play here and the kids had fun.
Trailing 4-3 going into the seventh inning, Brandon Molthen (three runs) and Gerald Nix (two runs) led off the frame for Ripon (3-2) with back-to-back singles and both advanced on a wild pitch, setting the table for Brandon Rainer (2 for 4, two RBI) who did not disappoint.
Rainer sliced a two-run double down the right-field line to plate Nix and Molthen and put the Indians ahead 5-4.
“I was just looking for a fast ball,” Rainer said. “I had already seen his breaking stuff and I knew he wasn’t going to beat me with that.
“And then I got ahead in the count and he came with the fast ball away. It wasn’t a pretty swing, but I hit it. It was probably a ball but I had to get my job done.”
A trio of fly outs to end the frame brought Sean McCann to the rubber for the second inning in a row and a chance to pick up the win. It looked like he was on his way to two up, two down when a towering infield fly ball was misplayed and fell to the grass. A walk and a wild pitch gave the Lions (2-3) runners at second and third with one out.
McCann came through, striking out the next batters to end the threat and give Ripon the win.
“My adrenaline was pumping,” McCann said. “It was a good time to be in that moment.
“I was really nervous but I just knew I had to get the job done.”
McCann rebounded from kind of a rocky start. He came in the game with the score tied 3-3 in the sixth and walked the first batter he faced and helped him around on a wild pitch before yielding an RBI single to Brady Balio to give Linden a 4-3 lead.
“My arm wasn’t quite warm yet and I was trying to get the feel for it,” McCann said. “Once I got the feel for it I started to lock in.”
The two teams combined for nine free passes in the first inning – seven walks and two hit batters – with Devon Bacon and Nathaniel Stum drawing bases-loaded walks to give the Indians an early 2-0 lead. Rainer singled in Molthen in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3.