Rangers win league opener in extras

(Kason Clark)

Redwood baseball pulls out a 2-0 win in 10 innings against the El Diamante Miners; Rangers improve to 6-3, start 1-0 in the East Yosemite League

VISALIA – It may have taken 10 innings, but Redwood baseball pulled out the win to open East Yosemite League play. On the road this past Wednesday night, the Rangers had battled the El Diamante Miners to a 0-0 tie to force extras.

But in the top of the 10th, Jackson Griffiths came through for Redwood with an RBI double and then a run on a wild pitch to give his team the lead. The Rangers then held on in the bottom of the inning to secure the 2-0 victory. Despite a tough battle to open league play, Redwood head coach Dan Hydash was glad to see the Rangers pull out the win on March 13.

“Getting that first league win under your belt is a big deal,” Hydash said. “Today, our pitching was outstanding, our defense was outstanding and we got a couple timely hits to get us the win. I’m pretty happy with it but we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Rangers improved to 6-4 on the season and have now won 16 straight games in East Yosemite League competition dating back to last year where they went 15-0. They also picked up another win over the Miners as they are now 7-1 in their last eight meetings in the series. Even though they have had El Diamante’s number, the Rangers are always fired up whenever they face the Miners.

“We come in with a lot of fire and heat wanting to beat them everytime,” Griffiths said. “We just tried to bring our ‘A’ game but today it was our ‘B’ game.”

The Rangers had to make that fire last through seven scoreless innings. Throughout the contest, both Redwood’s Erik Nico and El Diamante’s Colin Horton pitched well to keep it scoreless. Both defenses also played well, limiting any errors that could give the other team a scoring opportunity.

Even when the game went to extra innings, both offenses struggled to gain traction. But in the top of the 10th, the Rangers finally broke through to take the lead. First, Wyatt McElree opened the inning with a single to left field to get on base.

A few batters later, Griffiths made the play of the night with a double to center to drive in the run and give his team the lead. After seeing a zero on the scoreboard for most of the night, Griffiths was ready to put an end to that.

“After nine innings of just not scoring, I had a bunch of fire in my head going into that at bat,” Griffiths said. “I had a 3-2 count, I knew he was obviously going to throw a fastball so I just got it right down the middle and hit it as hard as I could.”

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El Diamante’s Colin Horton bats against Redwood. (Kason Clark)

Thanks to an El Diamante wild pitch, Griffiths was able to score to stretch the lead to 2-0. In the bottom of the 10th, the Miners failed to respond as they fell to 4-6 on the year. While the Miners have been pitching well and playing strong defense lately, El Diamante head coach Andrew Riddle knows they have to do better offensively in order to compete in the East Yosemite League this spring.

“We’re just going to keep grinding. We’ve been working hard at hitting because we know that’s not our strong suit,” Riddle said. “We’re going to continue at practice to keep hitting and teaching them approach and teaching them how to adjust throughout the game.”

While the Rangers are happy to get the win to open league play, they know there is plenty of room for improvement. As his young team gets more and more playing time this spring, Hydash hopes to see the Rangers start to produce at the plate.

“We need to keep grinding because we’re giving away too many at bats,” Hydash said. “We are relatively young and inexperienced and it’s a growing process. So to find a way to win today and get some experience, that’s obviously a good thing.”

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