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Ripon hitting its stride
Upstart Indians pummel RC for second straight win
Ripon’s Jared Macedo safely slides headfirst into third base. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin
RIPON — It was the offensive onslaught that Mark Whelan was waiting for his Ripon Indians to produce.

Now he is hoping that his club’s slump to start the season is behind it after plating six runs in each of the third and fourth innings in a 14-1, five-inning thumping of host Ripon Christian Wednesday.

“We have a friendly rivalry against our next-door neighbors, so the guys got up for it,” Whelan said. “This is what we’ve been working towards, and now we’re coming out and executing.”

It wasn’t just the bats that did it for the Indians, now 2-0 in the Trans Valley League and 2-4 overall, who played their best all-around game of the season behind sophomore pitcher Hayden Koch.

Koch threw just 62 pitches in five innings and gave up three hits and two walks to two strikeouts in his first-ever varsity start. His breaking ball did a lot of the damage, as he induced eight groundballs for outs.

Koch admitted he was nervous going in, but the offense spotted him a 2-0 lead before he delivered his first pitch. He helped his own cause with a two-run single in the fourth.

“It was such a lift,” he said. “When I have (run) support from my teammates, it makes it that much more comfortable on the mound.”

Some of that run support came from sophomore classmate Zach Evans, who was 2 for 3 with five RBIs and two runs.

“We scored 14, so it wasn’t just all me,” Evans said. “It felt good because I finally broke out; I had been in a little bit of a funk. We just all came together today and showed what we can do.”

Camden Dowhower was no easy out from the No. 2 hole, where he was a perfect 3 for 3 with a double, three runs and a bases-loaded walk for an RBI.

Kyle Wagner (two runs), Ripon’s best hitter, was intentionally walked in his first three at-bats, and clean-up batter Francisco Gustin made the Knights (0-3, 2-7) pay in the third.

Gustin (three) sparked the Indians’ first six-run rally with a bases-loaded double to left, plating two.

“It was a curveball, down and in,” he said. “Once I saw it off the bat I was like, ‘That’s RBIs right there.’”

Steve Vander Molen drove in Arie Den Dulk (singled) with a knock to left field in the fourth for Ripon Christian’s only run. Vander Molen finished 2 for 2.

Ripon will look to continue its hot streak at home Friday against defending TVL champion Hughson, while Ripon Christian hosts Riverbank. Both games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.