With 15 seniors graduated from last year’s second-place Foothill League team, West Ranch baseball, no matter the circumstances or time of year, is always looking to compete against high-level competition, grow the team’s chemistry and get better as a team.
Hosting Basic High School from Henderson, Nev. at West Ranch on Wednesday, the Ranchers combined great pitching and collective team hitting, defeating Basic 7-1.
Jake Schwartz, a sophomore-to-be, began the game on the mound for the Ranchers, pitching five strong innings giving up one run while striking out one and walking one.
“I felt good,” Schwartz said. “I was just trying to show coach Burrill what I can do and throw a lot of strikes in the zone. I was throwing my fastball, changeup and curveball trying to get them for strikes.”
“We got a really good pitching performance from a sophomore-to-be Jake Schwartz,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “He threw three pitches for strikes and he kind of gave us the win today. He went five strong innings, pounded the strike zone and had a really good defense behind him.”
In the bottom of the second inning with the score still tied at 0-0, the leadoff batter in the inning, Matt Striplin, was walked. Josh Yosfan reached first base on an error by Basic’s third baseman to put a runner in scoring position.
Behind in the count 0-2, Luke Gombos connected to hit an RBI single, scoring Striplin from second base giving West Ranch their first lead of the game.
Jake Callahan followed with a single and Yosfan scored on the fielder’s choice throw to second base putting West Ranch up 2-0.
“It just makes me feel better and makes me want to go out there and throw strikes to help my team play defense,” Schwartz said. “My teammates just went out there and made my life easier by scoring a lot of runs.”
Basic got a run back in the top of the third inning, cutting the Ranchers’ lead to 2-1.
Striking again in the bottom of the third inning, Nicholas Perez doubled and Trey Topping followed hitting an RBI single scoring Perez from second base. Striplin brought in his first of two RBIs on the day with a sacrifice fly that allowed Topping to score and push the lead to 4-1.
“We were able to get runners on base and we did some good things to move them around,” Burrill said. “There was a big hit and our first RBI came on a Luke Gombos single and there was a big double in their by Nicholas Perez. Our hitters today were really good at using the entire field.”
In the fifth inning, with two runners on base, Perez hit a ground-rule double to score two more runs for West Ranch. Carson Lagana came onto pinch run for Perez and was brought home two batters later after Striplin hit an RBI single to extend the Ranchers’ lead to 7-1.
Schwartz was subbed out in the bottom of the sixth inning as Burrill opted to close out the game bringing on two relievers: Brendan Deems and Callahan, in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
“I think we only return five innings of pitching from last year’s Spring team, so when we have someone like today in Jake Schwartz, who was a pitcher on our freshman team last year, come in and pitch really well against a talented team from Las Vegas, I mean, that really makes us feel good about the future and what the arms are going to be able to do this year.”
West Ranch has a full slate of games scheduled this weekend up in Fresno at the Annual Buchanan Varsity Tourney playing four games in three days beginning with Monte Vista High School at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Clovis North, two Saturday games at Clovis East High School against St. Mary’s (8 a.m.) and Clovis East (3:30 p.m.) finishing with a 1 p.m. Sunday game against Davis High School at Clovis North High School.
“We have a busy weekend. We have four games in three days and it’s going to be nice and hot up there in Fresno,” Burrill said. “We are going to make sure that all of our pitchers are throwing strikes. We had a really good day today that freed up some of our arms to be available for the weekend and if we throw strikes up there and play some defense behind them, we are going to be in real good shape.”