On Wednesday, Damonte Ranch’s luck ran out. Reed handed Damonte Ranch a 5-2 loss in the losers’ bracket of the 4A Northern Region baseball playoffs. The win lets Reed live to fight another day while the loss ends the season for Damonte Ranch.
“This is nice. This happened last year where we beat them in an elimination game,” Reed junior Casey Yocom said. “It feels good. It’s a little revenge after they got us earlier in the year.”
Reed’s fifth-year head coach, Jon Foss, had similar sentiments.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling any time you win in the regional tournament,” the Raiders’ skipper said.
The Raiders face another loser-out game today when they meet Douglas. Reed (18-15) and Douglas will play at Bishop Manogue at 1 p.m.
Yocom was a big part of Reed’s success Wednesday. The Raiders’ junior hurler turned in seven strong innings for the complete game victory. Yocom scattered five Mustangs hits in a four-strikeout, five-walk outing.
He worked out of a few jams as well and got some help from the Raiders’ defense, which committed one error, but turned three double plays.
“It was a great peformance by Casey. He found the zone with his curveball and changeup,” Foss said. “He was effectively wild with those sometimes. He kept them off balance. He was tough.”
Yocom said a large part of his effectiveness Wednesday was he avoided pitching up.
“I was just getting the ball down in the zone and they hit it to our players. Plus, our defense made some nice double plays,” Yocom said.
Reed grabbed the early momentum by pushing across a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Chris Hawthorne singled with one out and CJ Maldonado stepped up and proceeded to blast a home run over the right-center field wall.
“It felt really good, but when I first hit it, the wind was blowing in, and I didn’t know if it would go out. I thought it would hit the top of the fence,” Maldonado said. “I just kept watching their outfielder and it kept going. It felt good to help get us started. Hopefully, we’ll keep it rolling.”
Damonte Ranch got a run back in the top of the second after Chad Schryer ripped a leadoff double and scored on a Devin Carter single.
Reed put up another two spot in the bottom of the second. Hawthorne walked and Maldonado reached on a fielder’s choice. Both circled the sacks when John Pelino hit a double off the left-field fence, giving the RHS crew a 4-1 lead.
“We had some productive at-bats all day with Pelino and Hawthorne and CJ. That was clutch,” Foss said. “You are not going to score nine or 10 runs everyday. Those guys stepped up when we needed them.”
The Raiders extended their advantage to 5-1 by tacking on a run in the fourth. Hawthorne singled to start the Reed inning. Back-to-back singles by Maldonado and Pelino allowed Hawthorne to come plateward.
“It’s always nice to get a team down, especially in the regional playoffs,” Maldonado said. “It’s a different atmosphere. It’s more intense. Coach just told us come and play hard. It may be your last game. That’s what we did. We came right out of the chutes and started hitting.”
Damonte Ranch tried to hang around. The Mustangs seemed poised to have a big inning in the top of the fifth. They loaded the bases but managed just one run, trimming the East Sparks school’s lead to 5-2. Brandon Frankel scored the run when he reached on an error and came home after a walk to Brian Walsh and a run-scoring single by Ray Daniels.
That’s as good as it got for the Mustangs as Yocom faced just the minimum six hitters in the last two innings.