Irvine, Calif. – Tonight, the Orange County Riptide invited all the OC Great Park residents and their furry friends to watch them beat the Conejo Oaks 10-5. The Oaks struck first with 3 runs in the first 2 innings, but the Riptide came roaring back with a 5-run second and kept a lead through the finish line. With this win, the Riptide are 12-13 in conference play and 16-14 on the season, good for third in the division and 4.5 games back from first.
Christian Finnigan (Seton Hall) made his first start for the Riptide in a season of relief appearances. Head Coach Tim Brown hoped he would go 5 innings, but he ended up going only 2 and allowing 3 runs, although only 1 was earned, with the sloppy defense behind him in the second to thank for 2 of them.
Ultimately, Finnigan functioned as more of an opener for Luke Higgins (Golden West College), who pitched 3.1 innings of 1-run ball, walking 1 and striking out 4, before leaving the game with runners at the corners in the 6th.
Two-way player Zach Thomas (Utah Tech) induced a popout from Oaks right fielder Tyler Ganus, the current holder of the CCL batting title at .430, and a strikeout to get out of the jam. Thomas had the 7th as well, in total allowing 1 run on 1 hit.
Reed Schaefer (Arizona) took the 8th, striking out 2, walking 1, and allowing one hit for a scoreless frame.
Coach Brown summed it up: “Those three guys [Higgins, Thomas, Schaefer] stepped up big.”
In a surprising turn of events for everyone except the Riptide higher-ups, staff ace Matthew Maloney (New Mexico State) closed out the game. Maloney loaded the bases on 2 walks and 1 hit, but left unscathed, striking out 2 and lowering his ERA to a CCL-leading 0.29. He also leads the CCL in strikeouts at 49 and innings pitched at 31.0, leaving no doubt as to why he was selected for the CCL Showcase Game this Wednesday.
The standout offensive performances were from Shane Taylor (Utah Tech) and T.C. Simmons (UConn), both going 2-3 with 2 walks. Simmons, another selection for the Showcase, set himself apart with a pair of spectacular defensive plays in center. “He’s usually good at the plate,” Coach Brown remarked. “You don’t normally see plays like that in right-center field.”
T.C. Simmons (@tccsimmons @UConnBSB) with an unbelievable catch with the bases loaded to end the top of the 7th inning.
T7 | Oaks 5 – Riptide 8#OCRiptidefamily #OCRiptidebaseball #summerball #HookC pic.twitter.com/7X5sOoA65l
— OC Riptide Baseball (@ocriptide) July 18, 2022
Nathan Manning (Cal) was also invaluable tonight, batting in 4 of the Riptide‘s 10 runs despite only going 1-3 with a walk.
The most exciting part of the night, however, came in the 7th, when Gavin Haimovitz (Santa Barbara City College) hit his first home run in 2 seasons as a member of the Riptide, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the second baseman.
The Riptide remain at home in OC Great Park to face the Santa Barbara Foresters tomorrow. First pitch is 6:35 pm.
OC Riptide vs. Conejo Oaks – Box Score