Ripon had an opportunity to put up a crooked number in the first inning against Jacob Schreiber and visiting Casa Roble in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV quarterfinal Thursday at Mistlin Sports Park.
The fourth-seeded Indians loaded the bases with one out, but Schreiber escaped with a strikeout and a soft grounder to the shortstop.
It ended up being that kind of day for Ripon, which had base runners in every inning but could not capitalize in the 2-1 season-ending defeat.
The Indians (18-11) finally broke through in the seventh when Brady Hunt singled and was driven in by Dawson Downs’s hit to right field. Schreiber again worked his magic, halting the threat with two groundballs and a popup to center.
“Baseball is like that,” Ripon coach Bobby Swedberg said. “The guy was crafty, give him credit. He threw the fastball when he had to and located the curveball. We were a little antsy, at times, and tried to force things, but we hit a lot of balls right at people, and some days are like that.
“When you’re hitting balls and squaring them up, you don’t control where they go. But six inches left or six inches right, maybe it’s a base hit that changes the outcome of the game.”
Ripon outhit the No. 5 Rams (17-12) 9-7 and stranded nine runners. Hunt finished 2 for 3, and Riley Favero was 2 for 2 and hit by a pitch.
Casa Roble was able to make enough of its hits count. The visiting club from Orangevale plated the first run in the third inning, as Ian Peatross’ comebacker took an awkward hop off the mound and allowed Ben Tercero to score from third with one out.
Then in the fourth, Schreiber gave himself a needed insurance run with a single up the middle to score Tyrus Vogt, who led off with a double.
Schreiber ended up 2 for 2 and was hit by a pitch. From the mound, he struck out six, walked three and hit one in and gutty complete-game effort. The 6-foot-2, 186-pound junior was aided by a double play in the second inning and two pickoff plays in the fourth. He did it himself in the fifth when he struck out the side against the meat of Ripon’s order.
“We’ve been coaching here for 20 years and that was as good a starting outing we’ve had from a pitcher,” Casa Roble coach Ed Tupper said. “He also got two hits and what wound up as the game-winning RBI. He just went out there and competed like crazy. He’s a big, quiet, unassuming guy, but he has fire in his belly.”
Tupper added that his team faced adversity going into the contest.
“On the road, haven’t played on turf all season, plastic mound, we didn’t take a bus down here — there are all these things working against us,” Tupper said. “We had about four guys who had to get new shoes to play on this field.”
Joe Bruzuela was the hard-luck loser for Ripon. He tallied five strikeouts, two walks and a hit. Both starting hurlers went the distance and threw 110 pitches.
“He has competed his butt off all year for us,” Swedberg said. “We know anytime he takes the ball he’s going to give us a chance to win and he did it once again.”
The Indians also had some defensive highlights, including a pair of 6-4-3 double plays. Second baseman Cole Swafford made a nice diving grab to help limit the damage in Casa Roble’s run-scoring third inning.
With only four seniors, expectations will be higher next year for the Trans-Valley League champion.
“We’re definitely underclassmen heavy,” Swedberg said. “Last year, we were one run, one game and one win short of a league championship and a playoff spot. They came back and pretty much checked every box off this year. We just talked about there being boxes still left to check, and this group responds. If they can continue to check those boxes, they’ll be very successful next year.”
Tupper and his Rams still have their chance to make a run at a Section title. They face off with Golden Empire League rival Woodland (18-3), the No. 1 seed, in a best-of-three semifinal starting next Monday.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Tupper said. “We have a great group of kids, and we’ve been talking about the momentum we’re building for about two weeks now, and we just keep believing in each other and just doing the small things well.”