Holding a four-run lead after an inning of play and a six-run lead after four, West Ranch baseball looked like it was on its way to a no-doubt victory against Golden Valley at Golden Valley on Wednesday.
Scoring eight runs in the final three innings of play, the Grizzlies mounted a notable comeback, getting within three runs of the Wildcats, but ultimately fell 11-8 to West Ranch.
“I thought our approach at the plate was on point. I was very proud of our plate discipline,” said Golden Valley head coach Matt Sorensen. “The swings that we put on balls in certain counts was exactly what we want to do. We put some good swings on a very good pitcher. They did a good job of playing defense early in the game and hung some zeros and they got out of jams and of course, they had the four-run inning. I was proud very proud of the guys’ effort and the way we were competing today was awesome.”
Garret Monheim got West Ranch (13-4 overall, 7-2 in Foothill League) on the board in the first inning with a single into right field scoring Nicholas Perez from third base.
Two batters later, Ryan Ilan hit a ball to center field that bounced off the top of the fence and over for a two-run home run scoring Monheim. Ryan Tucker was walked. He then stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw.
Sam Callan then hit a single to center field to score Tucker for the fourth run of the inning.
“We were hitting the ball hard and putting the ball in the air,” Ilan said. “All the balls that we hit were finding gaps and stuff. That’s really it.”
Wildcats pitcher JD Callahan was lights out through four innings, shutting out Golden Valley (6-10, 1-8) and striking out five batters in the process.
West Ranch scored another two runs in the top of the fourth as Callan crossed the plate and Nikko Clarke hit an RBI single to left field scoring Ryan Farr for the sixth run of the game.
Adding another five insurance runs in the fifth, Tucker, Farr, and Connor Harrison all brought in a run, ending with a Perez two-run bomb to give the Wildcats an 11-0 lead.
That’s when momentum shifted in the Grizzlies’ favor.
After Bryson James doubled, Callahan walked Dylan Daszek and hit Gabriel Montiel to load the bases. Callahan was pulled and Garrett Snavley came on.
James scored from third on a passed ball and Chase Hwang hit a single, bringing in Daszek to put two runs on the board.
Snavley struck out the next batter and got the following batter to ground out for the second and third outs of the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second, James hit a single to bring in the third run of the game for Golden Valley. Daszek followed with a double down the third baseline, scoring another run and later scored on an error by the Wildcats.
Down 11-5 in the top of the seventh, Grizzlies pitcher Nico Marino came on and got three strikeouts to keep Golden Valley within striking range.
Logan Rightmyer doubled to right field followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Steven Moreno and Bryant Colon to cut the lead to 11-7.
West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill opted to bring in closer Trent Bird.
After Anthony Gomez hit a single to score Colon, bringing the Grizzlies within three runs of the Wildcats, Bird struck out three of the next four batters to end the game and seal the win for West Ranch.
“He’s been that guy and he wants the ball at the end of the game,” Burrill said. “We had a save set up for him today and he went out and was great again in that scenario. It’s a role that I think he relishes and I we will go back to him again as needed.”