The Wildcats celebrate a victory at the Buchanan Summer Elite Invitational in Fresno. Photo courtesy of Mitzi Mandel

West Ranch baseball excelling in summer, go undefeated at Fresno Invitational

Despite losing 15 seniors from the 2019 spring season due to graduation, West Ranch baseball is still rolling through the summer, most recently going 4-0 at the Buchanan Summer Elite Invitational in Fresno.

“We’ve had a good summer and I think Fresno was a bit of an extension of that,” West Ranch coach Casey Burrill said. “We’ve received some really good starting pitching all summer long from mainly some juniors-to-be.”

The Ranchers had their closest game of the tournament in the third game of the three-day tournament, which spanned from Friday to Sunday.

Clovis East brought strong pitching in the game and pulled ahead 1-0, a lead that lasted until the seventh inning.

RJ Gordon hit a double to get on base, then Trey Topping hit a triple to drive in Gordon and tie the game. Blake Schroeder came in as a substitute for Topping, then Josh Yosfan hit a single to score Schroeder and win the game 2-1.

“It’s fun to have those games,” Burrill said. “When it’s close at the end, everyone is having a good time. It felt like high school baseball where anything can happen at the end.”

Gordon was solid all weekend for the Ranchers, going 8-for-9 at the plate across four games with six RBIs. The senior-to-be is playing his first games with West Ranch after transferring into the program from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.

Last season with the Knights, Gordon hit .298 with 13 RBIs and one home run. Sherman Oaks reached the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division tournament.

“We just have had a player fall out of the sky and join us and he’s instantly impacted our team in an amazing way,” Burrill said. “He’s been our leading hitter this summer as far as numbers go, but he’s been pretty impressive.”

The Ranchers opened the tournament in Fresno with a 19-6 win over Monte Vista. Nicholas Perez belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first to put some of the first runs on the board as he will be filling more of a leadership role in the coming months at West Ranch.

“Everyone is looking at him and everyone is trying to act and perform like him and he really finds himself in a leadership role,” Burrill said. “We like the way he’s handled that. His role has changed from a dugout perspective and in a leadership role and we’re going to need him to be good at that for our team to have success.”

The Ranchers shut out St. Mary’s of Stockton 9-0 in five innings in the second game before beating Clovis East.

In the final game of the tournament, West Ranch beat Davis 11-9. Both teams combined for 21 hits and Gordon led the Ranchers going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and two singles. Topping added a double, a single and an RBI.

West Ranch concludes its summer schedule with the California Classic this weekend, a tournament that includes fellow Foothill League teams Valencia and Saugus.

The tournament begins on Saturday with West Ranch taking on JSerra at West Ranch at 10 a.m. Valencia plays Dana Hills at 10 a.m. at Valencia and Saugus plays Granada Hills at 10 a.m. at Saugus.

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