Thousand Oaks, Calif. – The Orange County Riptide (9-10) surrendered their lead to the Conejo Oaks (12-7) at George “Sparky” Anderson Field as the Oaks scored two runs off a walk-off hit to left field on Saturday.
“We keep battling back,” Head Coach Tim Brown said. “No matter what happens, we seem to crawl our way back into the game and we did that here.”
The Riptide jumped on the board 2-0 in the top of the first inning as Gavin Haimovitz (Santa Barbara City) scored on a wild pitch and Joey Nicolai (UC Riverside) knocked in Blake Penso (UC Irvine) with an RBI single.
They did not maintain the lead for long, as the Oaks answered back in the bottom of the inning with a pair of RBI singles, tying the game at 2-2. The Oaks took the lead in the third inning with another RBI single, and went on to extend their lead with a three-run home run to right field before the Riptide could put an end to the early innings.
Shane Taylor (Utah Tech) and Nicolai both had successful days at the plate. Taylor went 3-for-6 batting a triple short of the cycle. His solo home run closed the Oaks lead 6-3 in the top of the fourth inning. Nicolai went 3-for-4, in which two of his three base hits drove in base runners.
The seventh inning was a productive inning for the Riptide offense who retook the lead over the Oaks 7-6. The scoring started with one of Nicolai’s RBI singles, scoring Penso. Braden Murphy (UNLV) tied the game at 6-6 after he hit a sacrifice fly to the right fielder. The go-ahead run crossed home plate in response to a single off the bat of Chase Valentine (Tennessee).
Southpaw Josh Hahn (UCLA) and right-hander Caleb Turner (UC Riverside) split the first eight innings of the ball game. Hahn gave up six earned runs off seven hits over his four-inning outing, walking two batters and punching out another two.
“We got four innings out of Turner, and that was big for us,” Brown said. “He’s a big part of our bullpen and for him to be able to see he can do four innings against what I think is the best hitting club in the southern division, that’s huge for him.”
Turner proved himself on the mound, not allowing the Oaks to score any runs through four innings of work. Before departing the game at the start of the ninth inning, Turner allowed two hits, walked one batter and struck out two.
Although the Riptide were three outs away from securing a win over the Oaks, the Oaks found themselves in a bases loaded situation after Riptide reliever Daniel Naughton (Gonzaga) allowed a single, a walk, and hit the third batter with a pitch. The next batter continued the rally for the Oaks, successfully putting a ball in play, ending the game with a walk-off.
“These guys are resilient, they’ll be fine,” Brown said. “We’re all looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Riptide will look to win their next game as they travel to the MLB Youth Academy to take on the Barons at 1 p.m. on Sunday. (Box Score)