Vandegrift needed a win, and Matt Klassen gave them a gem.
The Viper starting pitcher threw seven innings and struck out eight batters to help Vandegrift down beat Vista Ridge 4-2 on Wednesday night and snap a three-game losing streak early in District 13-6A action.
“He’s a bulldog up on the mound and you can never question his competitiveness,” Vandegrift head coach Allen McGee said. “I can’t say enough about him going out there and pitching a big game when we needed it the most. We made enough plays behind him.”
The Vipers beat Cedar Ridge in their district opener but lost three straight, one to the Raiders and two straight against Hendrickson.
It was the first loss of the season for the Rangers, who have two wins over both Westwood and come-from-behind victories against McNeil to start the district season. Vista Ridge beat the Warriors 20-16 in walk-off fashion in a marathon game on Tuesday night.
First-year Vista Ridge head coach Matt Garver said fatigue was not an issue.
“(Klassen) pitched his tail off and we just didn’t get enough hits,” Garver said. “We didn’t get enough key hits or baserunners and make them work. We had them on the ropes pitch count wise. We’ve come back in all the games in district and tonight we just ran out of steam.”
The Rangers scored the first run on an error in the first inning, but the Vipers answered right back in the bottom half of the frame when Jake Miller drove in a run with a ground out to third base.
Vandegrift catcher Coleman Gamble hit a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Vipers a one-run lead. Miller scored on a wild pitch and Peyton Klam smacked a triple off the left-field wall in the fifth inning to push the Vipers’ lead to 4-1.
Tynan Gunn drove in a run for Vista Ridge in the seventh, but the Rangers couldn’t finish off yet another comeback.
McGee and Vandegrift were well aware of their opponents' late-inning drama, and he was expecting a late push.
“They’re a team that’s going to keep fighting to the end,” McGee said. “They’re a lot like us in that way. Their program and our program are a lot alike with the type of kids that are going to fight to the last pitch.”
The Rangers and Vipers finish the spring break week with another matchup Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Vista Ridge.
“Baseball is all about confidence,” McGee said. “I know we’re a good team, we proved it during tournament play. But when you lose your confidence as a team, it’s tough to overcome. So to get a quality win over a good team, that should boost the confidence back up in our guys.”