Isaac Ramos deserves a long ice bath.
The Hendrickson senior caught nearly 20 innings over two days as the Hawks clinched the No. 4 seed in District 13-6A with a 6-3 win over Cedar Ridge in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon. The Hawks needed nine innings to beat Vista Ridge in the first game of the play-in tournament on Friday night.
“That’s the most fun I’ve had playing baseball in a long time,” Ramos said. “This is the best part of the year for baseball. It was a fight to the very end and that’s all you can ask for. It’s been unbelievable.”
Cedar Ridge held a 2-0 lead for most of the afternoon, but Hendrickson scored three runs in the seventh inning to take the lead. Raiders shortstop Jett Garcia hit a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning to extend the game.
The Hawks rattled off three runs in the 10th to take the lead for good.
“I challenged them to keep fighting and give us a chance,” Hendrickson head coach Doug Pierce said. “Adversity has been our Achilles heel of not responding well when bad things happen, but they did a great job when we really needed it today. They stayed calm and kept batting.”
The road doesn’t get any easier in the playoffs, as the Hawks are matched up against Cy Ranch, the top-ranked Class 6A team in the state.
Aaron Vargas and Austin Adair each finished with two RBIs to lead the Hendrickson offense. Three Hawks pitchers combined to allow three runs on 14 hits with five strikeouts.
Cedar Ridge freshman starter Danny Valadez didn’t allow a run on three hits with five strikeouts and also finished 3-for-4 with one RBI at the plate. Garcia was 3-or-5 at the plate with one RBI and a run scored.
“It starts with Danny on the mound, he’s pitched really well for us,” Cedar Ridge head coach Daryl Reeves said. “He gave us six strong innings and guys were making some plays behind him. We gave them free bases in the two frames that cost us.”
Reeves said the snowball effect of letting walks turn into errors or errors turn into walk plagued the team all season. And added finishing the year at .500 mirrors the lack of consistency for the Raiders all season.
Valadez and Julian Meza drove in runs in the second and third innings, respectively, to give Cedar Ridge a 2-0 lead. That’s the way it stayed until Vargas drove in a run, Adair drew a bases-loaded walk and Andres Rodriguez beat out a throw to first for another RBI to flip the game on its head in the seventh.
Vargas and Ryan Cordova each drove in a run to give the Hawks the lead for good in the 10th.
With a difficult playoff matchup, Ramos said the Hawks are going to have to play better defense and get more than five hits to keep their season alive.
“The younger kids are learning and this is good or them to keep getting some of these games and experience,” Pierce said. “They know what we’re up against in the first round for sure. If they keep battling like that, (the ranking) is just what they are on paper.”