West Ranch’s RJ Gordon knew what he was getting into in Saturday morning’s game against JSerra Catholic in the California Classic.
When Gordon played at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, prior to transferring to West Ranch, he played the Lions in the Boras Classic Tournament in March.
“First of all, they’re really good,” Gordon said. “I mean, playing against them I kind of knew how they were going to throw a little bit, but that first guy was pretty good. I just told the guys to play as hard as they can and whatever happens, happens.”
The Ranchers lost to JSerra, the 2019 Trinity League runner-ups, 13-3. The Lions showed strength in pitching and hitting, ultimately outplaying West Ranch.
“We just kind of got beat in all aspects of the game,” said Ranchers coach Casey Burrill. “I thought we could’ve done a little more offensively against them. We gave them some chances early on and they have a good team that can really hit and they let it on us today, so it’s clear that we’ve got plenty to improve upon and plenty to put on that practice plan in the fall.”
The Lions’ starting pitcher, Gage Jump, threw a no-hitter through three innings while striking out two and walking three. Elijah Robles relieved him, giving up four hits and recording four strikeouts in three innings.
“The guy threw a good game,” said third baseman Trey Topping. “Both guys. We tip our caps and we’re going to come back next game and we’re going to do our best.”
JSerra got its offense going early, scoring six runs in two innings off of Ranchers pitcher Trent Huff. The junior-to-be recovered in the next inning and the rest of the defense followed.
By the time he exited the game after the third inning, Huff had recorded four strikeouts and walked two. Topping closed out the third with a long throw from third to first to force the Lions’ Owen Fuller to ground out.
Five different pitchers threw in the game as West Ranch is working on building up a new bullpen from top to bottom.
“A little bit of all hands on deck,” Burrill said. “Today we pitched a lot of people. It just kind of called for that. Obviously, we’d like to have a starter get in there and go four or five innings, but today that just didn’t happen and kudos to them for hitting the ball hard and getting our starter out kind of quick.”
The Ranchers held off the Lions for the fourth inning, but JSerra’s Colby Canales crushed a solo home run in the fifth inning to increase the lead to 7-0.
JSerra tacked on five more runs in the top of the sixth inning before West Ranch was able to generate some offense in the bottom of the frame.
Ryan Farr singled to get on base, then Gordon followed up with a single to move him to second. Logan Mandel stepped up to get a single for himself and drive in Farr.
Topping kept the hits coming with an RBI single that scored Gordon in the next at-bat. Matt Striplin singled to move Mandel to third and Brandon Wyre grounded out to drive him in and bring the score to 13-3.
“Their second arm, I thought the first couple innings he pitched we didn’t do a good job of being patient,” Burrill said. “I thought towards the end we did do a good job of being patient, so we liked the adjustment and we liked the fight.”
The Ranchers continue California Classic play with a game against Clovis at 4 p.m. Tomorrow they take on Buchanan at 10 a.m. and Camarillo at 4 p.m.
“You can’t really learn anything when you win a game,” Gordon said. “You learn more when you lose. So we got our butts kicked and we were able to learn from our mistakes this game and move on to the next one.”