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Young Knights roll past Forest Lake
Freshman pitcher twirls 4-hitter gem in playoff opener
Travis Vander Molen of Ripon Christian twirled a 10-strikeout four-hitter in the Knights Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff victory over Forest Lake Christian. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

LODI – The Ripon Christian Knights used their 12-day layoff to get back to the fundamentals.

The results of that was a 6-1 win over Forest Lake Christian in Tuesday’s first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI baseball playoffs at Zupo Field.

“It felt good to get the opening game out of the way,” said pitcher Travis Vander Molen, who earned the win for the RC.

He scattered four hits, recording 10 strikeouts with no walks while facing 25 batters in seven innings of work.

A freshman, Vander Molen played beyond his years. He even helped his cause by manufacturing a run by himself thanks to his lead-off double in the fifth inning.

“Half of our team is made up of underclassmen,” said Knights coach John De Visser. “We don’t see them as that since they’ve already competed in the postseason in other sports during the year.”

His team managed seven hits but took advantage of miscues by the Falcons.

RC (17-8-1) went up 3-0 in the third, making the most of two hits, three walks, a wild pitch and an error.

Danny Vander Molen had a one-out single to right, Travis Vander Molen reached on an error, and Chris Saenz platted Danny Vander Molen with a single while Travis Vander Molen scored on a wild pitch. Consecutive walks issued to Dominic Nelson, Josh English and Michael Myer forced in another run.

Forest Lake (11-7) got one run back in the fourth. Hunter Phillips had a lead-off hit, reached second on an error and scooted to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a fielder’s choice.

The Knights put the game out of reach in the fifth. Following Travis Vander Molen’s lead-off double which led to one run, Saenz singled while Nelson drew a walk. Ethan McMurray drew a bases-loaded walk and Dave Henderson drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly.

RC is scheduled to play again at 7 p.m. on Friday on a neutral field.