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Sierra freshman shines in 1st start
Bauer, Cook combine for 2-hitter against Ripon Christian
Ripon Christian-Sierra baseball
Wyatt Bauer delivers a pitch for Sierra against Ripon Christian in a non-league baseball game Thursday at Islanders Field. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Wyatt Bauer said he wasn’t nervous for his first varsity start on the mound for Sierra, and it showed.

The freshman lefty pitched four tidy innings in a combined two-hitter Thursday against Ripon Christian, and the Timberwolves’ bats came alive for an 11-1 blowout win that ended in the sixth inning at Islanders Field.

“Exciting to see Wyatt do what he did,” Sierra coach Travis Thomson said. “Obviously he’s a freshman, and if you watch him pitch you can’t tell. He pitches with confidence and commands three pitches. It has been a real pleasant surprise seeing that.

“We’re early in (the season) and he has had success. Usually when freshmen come up to varsity there’s a little bit of a transition period with adjusting to that level but he has shown quick that he deserves to be here.”

Bauer rung up six strikeouts and walked one, needing just 64 pitches to get through his four-inning appearance. The only run he gave up was unearned.

Ripon Christian’s Grant Sonke broke up his bid for a no-hitter with an infield hit to start the fourth inning, beating a throw to first from shortstop Angel Valdez. Sonke advanced on an error and scored on Dustin Hoekstra’s fielder’s choice.

Senior Zac Cook, also a southpaw, struck out three, walked three and hit one in his two relief innings for the Timberwolves (3-1).

“It was nice, but it was like any other game,” Bauer said of his first varsity start. He did get to pitch two innings in relief in Sierra’s 6-3 season-opening win over Livingston, and he got the win.

“Defense backed me up and we got a lot of hits,” he added.

He impressed opposing coach John De Visser, whose team is shorthanded with six players competing in the NorCal basketball playoffs. The Knights (1-1) hit the ball out of the infield just twice, one being Cam Hoffman’s popup that was misjudged by the left fielder and fell for a hit.

 “We have a lot of stuff to fix in a hurry, but those guys are good,” De Visser said. “I mean, that was a freshman on the bump and the kid is legit. We’re not good enough to try and play guess with a guy that good, we have to start hunting pitches, otherwise a guy like that is going to shove it right down or throat like he did today.”

It was a complete effort for Sierra, which began substituting players after sending 10 batters to the plate for a six-run third inning that gave the T’wolves a comfortable 8-0 lead. Spencer Kim drilled a two-run single during the third-inning onslaught, and Jack Cunial had an RBI triple.

Santi Duarte (walk, run, RBI), Brendan Rapisura (run) and Cunial (run, two RBI) all went 2-for-2. Duarte was subbed out but re-entered in the bottom of the sixth to implement the mercy rule with a walk-off single.

“First couple of innings I didn’t think we were real aggressive and then we started swinging,” Thomson said. “These guys have good swings and we can hit a little bit, so we’re just working on the approach and trusting that we can hit.”

Sierra returns to its home field on campus today to host Buhach Colony. The Timberwolves get to practice at Islanders Field two nights per week and are hosting four games at the River Islands facility in Lathrop.

“This is all (because of) Steve Clark, our principal,” Thomson said. “We appreciate the support he has for the program.”

Ripon Christian heads to Grace Davis today and returns to Islanders Field next Wednesday to face Ripon.