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Knights offense unable to overcome defensive miscues
Ripon Christian hurler Josh Welch delivers from the mound. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
RIPON — Ripon Christian head coach Joe Darretta doesn’t have to worry about his team putting runs on the board.

It’s keeping the other teams from doing the same that has been the Knights’ Achilles’ heel so far this season.

RC allowed defending Trans Valley League champion Hughson to come from behind and seal their second straight victory off of an error in a 9-8 finish Wednesday afternoon.

“We knew coming in to this season that we’d be able to score points, and we’ve been able to score points quickly,” Darretta said. “But defensively we’ve been making some errors, and it’s hard to keep things going our way when we’re letting then get their foot back in the door.”

Matt Unruh got the Knights off to a good start when he belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the first that drove in Clayton Prins and set the tone for what looked to be an offensive display.

With Josh Welch on the mound for the Knights — dealing with a blistered finger that he suffered over the weekend — Ripon Christian managed to give up runs in each of the first two innings when Hugson’s Zack Adams drove in leadoff man Archie Quay and pitcher Jason Meyer took a shot deep over the outfield wall to tie the game.

The Knights would answer back in the bottom of the fourth when Arie Den Dulk would improve his luck after being hit by a pitch to eventually work his way home and help give his squad the 3-2 lead.

It would only be a matter of time before Hughson unloaded its own offensive attack.

In the fifth inning, two straight walked batters set the table for Adams to bring both base-runners home with a double that bounced off of the centerfield wall, and third baseman Jose Lopez would bring Adams home when he unloaded a two RBI monster homerun that gave Hughson the 6-3 lead as the game headed into its final innings.

After the Knights failed to make up the runs on their next outing, the Huskies poured on even more with another pair of runs that were aided by a walk and an error that gave them an 8-3 lead that appeared to be insurmountable.

But making up runs is what Ripon Christian does best.

With Den Dulk drawing a walk on his next at bat, and Darin Castro finding the gap with a solid single, Steve Vander Molen made it a game once again with his deep fly to left field that cleared the fence and moved Ripon Christian to within two runs of the Huskies. Robert Hull would also cross the plate in the inning after stealing second and advancing to third on a balk by Jason Meyer that put him in prime scoring position.

Vander Molen would finish the game 3 for 4 with three RBIs, while Den Dulk finished 1 for 2 with a homerun and an RBI.

But when the Huskies managed to pick up another run in the seventh to put the pressure on the Knights, Den Dulk’s solo homerun would be the last time someone from Ripon Christian crossed the plate.

“We have hitters on this team, and we know that we can put the runs on the board when we need to,” Darretta said. “But we’ve got to come back and work on not making errors and making clean plays on the field.

“We’re a young team, and when we put everything together we should be able to do well in the TVL this year.”

With the loss, Ripon Christian dropped to 2-5 and remains winless in their first two TVL games.