By Garth Shanklin
RIPLEY — With the sectional tournament just around the corner, the Ripley Blue Jays baseball team winds down their regular-season schedule with a conference bout against the Eastern Warriors.
The contest was originally scheduled to be played last Tuesday, April 26, but weather intervened and forced the game to be postponed. The teams picked things back up on Friday and early on it appeared there would be quite the battle. Both squads were scoreless through two innings before Eastern finally broke through in the top of the third. Kyle Burbage led the frame off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch.
After a passed ball sent Burbage to third base, three straight walks scored him. Calder Holten also scored in the frame, thanks to a sacrifice fly by Kevin Schmid. Ripley got a run back in the fourth. Chandler Himes was hit with a pitch to start the inning. He then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. After a Michael Oberslake strikeout, Blake Ridpath reached base on an error that scored Himes. A flyout by Heath Adams would end the inning.
The Warriors added two more runs in the fifth inning. A pair of groundouts started the inning, but Nick Kelch singled with two outs. He stole second, which opened up first base for Brady Klein, who walked. An error loaded the bases for Baron Frost, who promptly singled in a pair of runs to put the Warriors ahead 4-1.
Ripley drew a walk and hit a single in the fifth, but both runners were left stranded. The Blue Jays also picked up a baserunner in the sixth, but two groundouts and a strikeout ended the inning.
Eastern Brown added five more runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away. Kelch singled again and Klein doubled, scoring Kelch. Klein then scored on the single by Schmid. Ethan Puckett singled, sending Schmid to third. After Puckett stole second, he moved to third on a base hit by Brandon Tomlin. Puckett then scored on the throw that allowed Tomlin to move to second base. An error moved him to third base and he scored on a groundout by Burbage.
After a strikeout and a groundout left the Blue Jays with just one out left, Timmy Huffman reached base after being hit with a pitch. He was called out for offensive interference to end the game.
The Blue Jays mustered just two hits offensively, one by Kevin Kirk and the other by Himes, though the team did draw four walks and two hit-batters. Kirk picked up the loss, tossing 6 1/3 innings and allowing nine runs (six earned) on nine hits. He struck out 10 batters and walked five. For Eastern, Holton pitched a complete-game. He allowed just two hits and one unearned run, tallying seven strikeouts and four walks along the way. Holton also had two hits and scored a run in the game. Kelch also had two hits for the Warriors.
Ripley is scheduled to face off against the Georgetown G-Men in their final regular-season game on Thursday, May 5 at 5 p.m. The team will then face Williamsburg in the opening round of the sectional tournament.