EL DORADO HILLS — The Oak Ridge baseball team came into Thursday’s game against Jesuit with a chip on its shoulder after facing the Marauders two days earlier and blowing a large lead to suffer a rough 9-8 loss.
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On their home turf, the Trojans had something to prove and prove it they did, defeating Jesuit 11-1. The game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning on the 10-run rule.
With the win, Oak Ridge improved to 10-3 in the league standings, 17-8 overall. In their battle with the Marauders for first place in the Delta River League, Thursday’s victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the Trojans.
On the hot summer-like day with a rowdy cheering section and pitcher Austin Ales on the mound, Oak Ridge settled into a groove quickly. Ales did allow a few base runners on a combination of hits and errors but kept the Marauders’ high-powered offense scoreless through the first three innings.
The Trojans’ bats came alive in the first inning. Luke Eicher led off with a well-struck double off the left-field wall and Lance Berringer followed with an RBI single up the middle. Ales, up next, hit an outside pitch past the second basemen for an opposite-field knock and Berringer scored on a wild pitch by Jesuit pitcher Nick Viola.
After Alex Fitchett drew a free pass, Jason Ross crushed a bases-clearing, two-run triple into the right center gap. To finish off the outburst, Alec de Watteville stroked a two-out RBI hit through the hole at short. When Ales went back out to the mound he had a nice four-run cushion.
The Jesuit squad finally broke through in the top of the fourth. Joe Williams singled and Brian Celsi knocked him with a ground-out to first, but that was the last the Trojans saw of the Marauder offense.
Oak Ridge had a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth, but remembering the previous heart-breaking loss, the Trojans looked for more.
After de Watteville singled and Eicher walked, Berringer picked up his second RBI of the day with a fielder’s choice ground-out. Back-to-back walks issued to of Fitchett and Ross loaded the bases for catcher Cody Morris, who delivered the biggest hit of the game — a three-run double down the rightfield line that chased everyone home.
Ales went five strong innings to earn the win. He allowed just one earned run and struck out two. Offensively for Oak Ridge, Ross was 2-for-2 with a walk, a double, a triple and two RBIs; singled in two runs; de Watteville went 2-for-3 with an RBI; and Morris was 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
“We played really solid today and swung the bats real well,” Trojan coach Todd Melton said. “We can beat most teams by playing solid, fundamental baseball like we did today, but when we try and get caught up in all that other stuff, that doesn’t help us at all.”
With just two games remaining, Oak Ridge plays Monday at Pleasant Grove.