By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The West Ranch Wildcats (2-6) lost their non-league home matchup with the Calabasas Coyotes (4-2) on Tuesday.
Senior Sam Grunberg was huge for the Coyotes, with a first-inning homer and second-inning hit, getting the senior four RBIs in the first two innings.
Grunberg finished 2-3 with 4 RBIs and a homer.
Calabasas was quick to strike with the dinger but West Ranch managed to answer with one run off a wild checkdown to first base that got away from starting pitcher Jordan Kingston. Kingston fanned four through 3.2 innings of work.
Grunberg then stepped up again in the second with a base hit to right, scoring two more Coyote runs to go up 6-1.
West Ranch jumped back into the game in the third inning. The team finally capitalized on its third chance with the bases loaded. Ty Deperno hit a two-RBI single to get the Cats within three runs. Leadoff man Blake Schroeder would then take one for the team with the bases loaded again, letting the inside pitch nail him in the back, scoring one more. Schroeder was hit by a second pitch in his next at-bat.
The team had the bases loaded six times but only scored two runs out of those situations, stranding a plethora of Wildcat runners. The Wildcats batted .400 with the bases loaded.
Third baseman Jake Callahan would score the teams’ final run on a wild pitch. Callahan finished 3-3 and was hit by a pitch.
“We have very high expectations for what Jake can do at the plate,” said West Ranch head coach Ryan Lindgreen. “He delivered today and we expect that.”
Junior Matt Lloyd got the start for West Ranch but the Coyotes cut the starter’s time short. Lloyd gave up four earned runs in 1.1 innings. Senior Caden Deck entered in relief and was stellar. Deck would give up two runs from his inherited base runners but the senior pitched tight through the sixth.
Deck retired the side in the third and got out of a big jam in the sixth with two runners on and one out. The reliever struck out one and forced a line out, stranding two Coyote base runners.
“We’re going to come together,” said Deck. “When the season comes we’re going to start winning a lot more games.”
After nearly giving up a few more runs in the top of the seventh, the Cats were poised to strike with no one better to lead off the inning than senior Brett Potter. The center fielder was 3-3 before grounding out in the seventh. Potter proved dangerous in the seven hole, giving the Wildcats life with the top of the order due up all game.
“No matter where you are [in the batting order], you can do damage,” said Potter. “Just get on base and have fun.”
Designated hitter Shane Overholser then got his timely first hit of the game, batting eighth. However, that would be all she wrote for West Ranch, which had two batters ground out to end the game.
The Wildcats have had a rough preseason, winning just two of eight. Their competition has been formidable and the Cats have been in some tight games that just slipped away. Lindgreen really wanted to test the team with strong opponents, and through that, the team feels prepared for league.
“We are hoping that type of preparation is going to pay dividends when [we] get into league play and pay dividends when the playoffs roll around,” said Lindgreen.
West Ranch will now play in one more non-league game before opening up Foothill League action next week. West Ranch is scheduled to host Santa Margarita Thursday at 3 p.m. and will open up league play Wednesday, March 9, at home against Canyon at 3:30 p.m.