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Sierra rolls to non-league win as injuries stifle Ripon Christian
Sierra-Ripon Christian baseball
Sierra’s Mitch Van Zwaluwenburg scored ahead of the throw to Ripon Christian’s Grant Sonke. GARY JENSEN/

Everything seemed to go visiting Sierra’s way Monday, while Ripon Christian started the game under a cloud and never bounced back in a 10-0 five-inning mercy-rule Timberwolves win in non-league baseball action.

“Things kind of went our way today,” Sierra coach Travis Thomson said. “Tyler (Looney) threw a great game and had three or four pitches working. At the plate, we were able to string together a lot of quality at-bats back to back to back, and that was kind of the difference today versus our other games because we had a good team approach today.

“We had quite a few singles and we didn’t strike out very much. That’s usually a good recipe.”

The Knights (4-3) found themselves up against it right out of the gate. The first two Ripon Christian pitchers exited the game via injury by the game’s fourth batter and a third player was lost due to injury in the Knights’ second at-bat.

“I have been doing this a very long time and this is the toughest start I have ever had,” Ripon Christian coach John de Visser said. “Two guys were down within the first out, and we lost another the first time through the lineup, so three guys in the first two innings. I’m not sure what I did to deserve all this, but here we are.

“We purposely scheduled tough non-conference teams during conference play to keep us sharp because last year we didn’t see anybody really good until the end and that bit us. If we start losing guys we get thin really quick, but our guys that came in competed.”

Looney led the Timberwolves (3-5) on the mound and at the plate, limiting the Knights to three baserunners on two hits and one error with three strikeouts in four innings of work with just three balls leaving the infield.

At the plate he went 2 for 2 with two RBI, a run and a walk.

“At the plate it was about staying short to the ball,” Looney said. “The whole non-league I have been long so I made an adjustment and I pulled my shirt to stay short to the ball.

“The pitching aspect is just confidence and keeping my composure on the mound when things go sideways, but they really didn’t go sideways today.”

Looney’s battery mate Rudy Barney singled in a run and was hit by a pitch, stole two bases and scooted home just in time on a wild pitch.

“I was just trying to get a read and get a step ahead,” Barney said. “I want to get aggressive, I just want to always get to the next base.”

Sierra leadoff batter Troy Morrow did his job, reaching base three times in four trips on a walk, a fielder’s choice and an infield single, knocking in one run and scoring two. 

“It’s all about having quality at-bats,” Morrow said. “It’s just swing at the right pitches and take the right pitches.

“It all comes down to patience and knowing your job.”

Mitch Van Zwaluwenburg came out of a recent slump by reaching base twice in three trips for the Timberwolves with a double and a walk, notching an RBI and a run.

“I have been struggling at the plate the last few games,” Van Zwaluwenburg said. “After coming off a big win against Downey I think our team’s morale was up and our energy was high, so I needed to step up.

“I was sitting middle away on the first at-bat and I grounded to second base so I knew my timing was there, and the next one I got a little more under it.”

Sierra designated hitter Nikko Camarena reached base three times on a pair of walks and an error, scoring once, and teammate Angel Valdez was 2 for 3 with a run.

Ripon Christian’s Logan Sauer and Dustin Hoekstra each reached on an infield single and Eli Terpsma reached on an error for the third Knights baserunner with nobody from Ripon Christian getting past second base.

The Knights continue their Southern League schedule Wednesday on the road at Denair and next Monday the Timberwolves travel to Tracy to face Kimball and begin their Valley Oak League campaign. Both games start at 4 p.m.