Jarvis’s blast, Petersen’s CG powers Ripley to win in Game 2

HURRICANE  – The levee finally broke for head coach Shane Casto’s Ripley Vikings.  Throughout the Class AAA, Region 4 championship series, the Vikings had been able to keep the potent Redskin lineup in check.  In Friday night’s deciding Game 3 though, the Redskins were able to break through, blitzing the Ripley pitching staff en route to a 9-2 win and earning a spot in the state tournament.  Despite the final score, the Vikings were able to start the game off with a spark, provided by senior Lane Casto’s two-run home run in the top of the first.  Unfortunately, that proved to be the extent of the Ripley offense on the night, as Hurricane freshman pitcher Tyler Cox settled down and held the Vikings scoreless the rest of the way.  The Redskin bats also woke up, with all nine batters recording at least one hit on the night.

“This is a tough one,” Casto said, “They simply played better than us tonight.  Lane came out of the gate and got us a two run lead really quick and [Hurricane] had a freshman on the mound.  They very easily could’ve thrown in the towel, but hats off to [pitcher Tyler Cox].  He battled, he’s going to be a good one.  They’re a great team and they hit the ball really well tonight.”

While Casto’s two-run shot certainly gave Ripley the early momentum, the Redskin bats also went to work early on Ripley starter Ben Mack.  Mack, who has been battling an injury over the past several weeks, hadn’t pitched since May 5’s regular season finale against Herbert Hoover, struggled with his location and Hurricane took advantage.  They scored runs in each of the first five innings, beginning with Noah Birthisel’s sac fly in the bottom of the first.  A Garrett Gress sac fly tied the game in the bottom of the second, followed by a Nate Dunham RBI double that put the Redskins ahead.  A diving stop by Ripley first baseman J.T. Kemp saved at least one run and ended the second, but the Redskins were in control, up 3-2.

In the third, Bo Adkins lashed an RBI double to make it 4-2, then Short singled to bring him home for a 5-2 Hurricane lead.  

Mack’s night on the mound was done in the fourth, as Rocky Ford was brought in.  He fared no better against the Hurricane buzzsaw, as they added another run in the bottom of the fifth.

Back-to-back hit batters ended Ford’s night in the sixth, prompting a pitching change to senior Jacob Brannon.  He plunked Evan Dearing, loading the bases.  Dearing eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-2, then senior Remy Boyce was brought on in relief.  He faced Logan McClure, who ended a spectacular night at the plate with a two-run single to bring the score to 9-2.  

From there, Cox retired the Vikings in order in the top of the seventh, ending the game and clinching the Region 4 championship.

“We got behind pitching,” Casto said, “They got into some hitter’s counts and they were able to hit the ball hard.  Hats off to Coach Sutphin and his program and good luck to them [in the state tournament].”

Casto led the Vikings at the plate, finishing a perfect 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI in his final game in blue and white.  Kemp, Ford and Boyce collected the Vikings’ other three hits on the night.

Mack took the loss, giving up five runs (all earned) on eight hits with two walks in three innings of work.  Ford surrendered three runs on two hits with a walk in two and a third innings of relief. Brannon and Boyce combined for the final two thirds of an inning.

Short led the Redskins at the plate, going a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while McClure was close behind, going 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Cox’s final line was sterling: seven innings pitched, five hits, two runs (both earned), two strikeouts and a walk.

The loss closed Ripley’s season with a 20-12 record.

 

RIPLEY 4 – HURRICANE 2

A mammoth three-run blast from senior Anthony Jarvis provided the spark and sophomore Dane Petersen’s complete-game effort on the mound kept the Vikings alive in the regional championship series, powering them past Hurricane in last Thursday night’s Game 2, 4-2.

“That was a big one,” Casto said of Jarvis’s big home run, “It got our bats going.”

Jarvis’s home run in the bottom of the third was preceded by a Hurricane error, which set the stage for the blast.  At least for the night, the Vikings’ were able to take advanage.

“This time of year, the team that makes the fewest mistakes generally is going to win,” Casto said,  “When you get to this point, you can’t make mistakes.  We were able to capitalize and that was the difference.”

Up until the third inning, the Viking bats had been largely silent, while the Redskins manufactured their way into the lead in the top of the second.  With runners on the corners and two outs, Noah Short scored from third after Bo Adkins got caught in a rundown between first and second.  

Trailing 1-0, the top of the Viking order came through.  Remy Boyce led off the third with a single, then Lane Casto grounded to short in what looked like a sure 6-4-3 double play.  However, second baseman Short was unable to corral the flip from shortstop Chandler Kelley.  That put runners on first and second for Jarvis, who absolutely crushed an offering from Redskin starter Logan McClure over the fence in left center, putting Ripley up 3-1.

To their credit, the Redskins would not go quietly.  They answered right back in the top of the fourth, when Jake Allen homered to left to cut the Ripley lead to 3-2.  After a walk and a strikeout by Petersen, Viking catcher Tyler Haskins nailed Austin Dearing on an attempted steal of second to end the Redskin threat.

Petersen retired the Redskins in order in the top of the fifth, then Ripley junior Rocky Ford delivered in the bottom of the inning.  Back-to-back singles from Jarvis and J.T. Kemp put ducks on the pond for Ford, who then lashed an RBI single to left center to give Ripley some insurance with a 4-2 lead.  

From there, Petersen worked his way out of some jams, ultimately inducing a game-ending 6-4-3 double play in the top of the seventh to give Ripley the win.

“Dane’s pitched a lot of big games for us,” Casto said, “He beat Parkersburg South three times, he beat Parkersburg, we’ve kind of thrown him out there a little bit.  He throws the ball with a lot of tilt and we pitch to soft contact.  He was able to do that.  He settled in and he got us back in the dugout quick.  I’m really proud of him.”

Petersen’s final line showed: seven innings pitched, two runs (both earned), five hits, four walks and two strikeouts in the win.

McClure took the loss for the Redskins, going six innings while surrendering four runs (three earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts.

Jarvis and Ford led Ripley at the plate, as Jarvis finished 2-for-3 with the home run, three RBI and two runs scored and Ford went 1-for-3 with an RBI.  Remy Boyce, Broedy Boyce, Kemp, Casto and Petersen also collected hits on the night for the Vikings.

For Hurricane, Allen (2-for-3, home run) and Adkins (2-for-3) led the way.

Despite the Game 3 loss, Casto was able to reflect on a season where his team made great strides, especially at the end.

“Very proud of them,” Casto said, “June 5 last year, the day after the state tournament, not very many would’ve thought we’d be in Game 3 against the number one team in the state.  These guys fought, battled and believed.  They pushed themselves and worked hard.  This senior class won 20 plus games every year, not sure exactly but probably top five in wins all time in Ripley baseball history, which says something in itself.  I’m proud as heck of these guys and these seniors left a mark for the young guys to follow.”