RIPON — Donny Cooksey came up big for Ripon on Friday – more than once.
With a home run, a single, two runs and a walk already under his belt and the score tied in the bottom of the seventh, visiting Hilmar intentionally walked two batters to load the bases and bring Cooksey to the plate. The Indians junior did not disappoint, lacing a single down the right-field line to score Jacob Gahm for the thrilling 7-6 walk-off win in Trans-Valley League baseball action.
“Cooksey was struggling on Thursday,” Ripon coach Jon Manrique said. “He struck out three times and even though he is one of our better hitters, he was pretty down on himself. We brought him up last year as a sophomore and we told him he was fine that we needed to work on his two-strike approach.
“He hits really well going away, going (opposite field), so I knew he could get a hold of one and he did the first time. When they brought him up again all I was thinking was that this is the guy I would want in this situation. We have some quality hitters, but I know he was hot and I knew he would do his job.”
Blustery winds and bright sun along with an error helped the Yellowjackets (3-4 TVL, 11-10 overall) score two runs in the sixth inning and another in the seventh to tied the game at 6-6. Gahm (2 for 4, triple, run) led off the bottom of the seventh, stole second and took third on Eric Jaquez’s sacrifice bunt. Andrew Durrer (double, RBI) and Colby Bacon were walked to load the bases, setting Cooksey (3 for 4, two RBI, walk) up for his clutch hit.
“It was their decision to walk to get to me,” Cooksey said. “They put two great batters on to get to me and they gave me a pitch to hit and I did what I needed to do.”
After Cooksey homered in the first, Gahm’s triple was the highlight of a three-run third for Ripon (6-2, 14-4-2) that included a two-out RBI double by Durrer that scored Jaquez.
“I was just out there looking for a good pitch to hit,” Gahm said. “I was looking to work the count.”
Multiple times routine outs turned into extra base hits thanks to wind gusts and a piercing sun in right field.
“We know how our right field plays and it can be deadly with the sun,” Manrique said. “And then the wind – well, we haven’t had many days like this. But today we knew coming in was going to be tough and it was tough on both teams.
“Hilmar is a good team and every time we seemed to miss a spot they took advantage of it, they capitalized. When you are playing in these kinds of conditions it’s got to be a grind and the boys came out today and stuck together even when coach was yelling at them. I have to be happy with the way they responded.”
After being sidelined since April 5 when he was knocked from a game due to a line drive on his elbow, Jack Mayer (RBI) batted leadoff for Ripon and went the distance on the mound, sprinkling nine hits over the seven innings while striking out four, walking three and hitting two.
“I don’t think I had my best stuff,” Mayer said. “The wind was definitely a factor in the game. Everyone was messing up on fly balls and the sun was a factor for both teams. I had problems finding the strike zone as this was my first game back after taking one off of the elbow.
“But we clutched up at the end and everyone did their job.”
Chris Flores was 3 for 4 with two runs for Hilmar. Bryce Durjava was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI and Austin Sutton had a two-run home run for the Yellowjackets.
East Union 10,
Central Catholic 0
MODESTO — The Valley Oak League-leading Lancers (10-0, 20-3 overall) didn’t plate their final run until the top of the seventh inning, but pitcher Mikayla Bongi was in full control during her three-hit effort.
Izabella Owen (two doubles) and Allie Tajii (double, triple) cracked three hits apiece, while Kristina Mojica added two.