Oaks Come Through in Must-Win; Sojka Hits 2nd Walk-off HR for Riptide in Two Days

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Updated: July 27, 2018

July 27, 2018
Thousand Oaks, CA

Chase Cockrell (Ole Miss) hit a two-run home run and a two-run double, Brandon Lewis (UC Irvine) hit a pair of doubles and scored twice, and Jordan McFarland (Arkansas) had three hits, three runs scored and drove in two runs to lead the Conejo Oaks to a 9-6 must win over the Healdsburg Prune Packers today at Sparky Anderson Field. Cockrell’s home run came in the third inning and followed McFarland’s second RBI-single of the game to put the Oaks up 4-0. But it was his double in the sixth that was the bigger of the two hits. Healdsburg had taken the lead in the game in the fourth inning, scoring five runs on seven hits, including a bases-clearing three-run double by Sam Wezniak (Cal), a two-out RBI-single by Cade Peters (UC Riverside) and a two-out RBI-double by Ben Sanderson (UC Santa Barbara), and that score held until the Oaks scored once in the fifth inning to tie the game 5-5 when McFarland hit a leadoff double and scored when the Packers turned a double-play. Nick Rincover (Pierce College), who had entered the game to pitch for the Oaks to get the final out of the fourth inning in relief of starter Justin Friedman, retired the side in order in the fifth but a leadoff walk, an error and a single loaded the bases for Healdsburg with no outs in the sixth and Rincover surrendered the lead after striking out one batter when an infield groundout put the Packers up 6-5. That Healdsburg lead wouldn’t last long, however, as the Oaks took the lead for good in their next at bat, scoring four two-out runs after Will Picketts (CSU Bakersfield) got aboard with a one-out single. Lewis, who had doubled in the first inning and scored the Oaks first run on McFarland’s first RBI-single, doubled again to drive in Pickets with the tying run, Cockrell drove in two with his double to put the Oaks ahead and Elijah Alexander (Rio Grande Valley) hit the third two-out double of the inning to drive in Cockrell and put the Oaks up 9-5. After limiting the bases-loaded and no outs damage to one run, Rincover struck out the first batter in the seventh and then turned the pitching duties over to John Vergara, who struck out the first two batters he faced to end the seventh, retired the side in order with one strikeout in the eighth, and pitched around a two-out single in the ninth with another strikeout to close out the win. The Packers, who had already clinched a berth in the CCL Playoff set to start tomorrow here in Thousand Oaks, utilized six pitchers in today’s game, presumably fine-tuning their staff for a playoff run which begins at noon tomorrow when Healdsburg faces the Orange County Riptide. The Oaks, however, needed to win today’s game to edge the San Luis Obispo Blues for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. Conejo will meet the Santa Barbara Foresters, the No. 1 seeded team in the playoffs, in the 4pm game tomorrow.

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Elsewhere around the CCL today:

Fullerton, CA

Austin Sojka (OK Wesleyan) hit a two-out, walk-off, solo home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning to give the Orange County Riptide a 6-5 victory over the Academy Barons today at Fullerton College. Sojka’s walk-off home run was the second such feat for the Riptide in as many nights as Mason McWhorter (Georgia Southern) did likewise last night versus the Healdsburg Packers, hitting his walk-off solo home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Sojka’s home run today was his fourth hit of the game. His single to lead off the fourth inning sparked a four-run rally, highlighted by an RBI-triple by Aaron Simpson (Ball State) and a two-out two-run double by Bradley Jekich (Pacific) that put Orange County up 5-2. That lead would not last long, however, as the Academy scored three times in their next at bat, scoring on a two-run single by Jacob Shanks (UC Riverside) and an RBI-double by Christian Lucio (Eastern Kentucky). Anthony Nettles (Clark), who started on the mound and struck out four for the Barons, pitched out of a bases-loaded and one out situation in the fifth inning to keep the score tied, and then the bullpens for both teams took over. Spencer Hereford (Dominguez Hills) pitched five scoreless innings in relief of Nettles, striking out eight batters, to hold the Riptide in check until the eleventh inning. Dylan Diaz (Concordia) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Riptide starter Colin Townsend (St. Louis), who allowed all five Barons runs on eleven hits while striking out six, Tyler Frazier (Oregon) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Diaz, facing the minimum nine batters by striking out six and picking off from first base the only runner he allowed to reach via a walk, and Robby Evans (St. Edwards) pitched around an error in the top of the eleventh inning that put the leadoff batter aboard and a stolen base that put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position by retiring the next three batters in order, two via strikeouts, to setup Sojka’s walk-off. Ryan Zapata (MS JC), who entered the game in relief of Hereford to start the eleventh, gave up a single to Micah Pries (Pt. Loma) to leadoff the inning, got a groundball double-play to erase the initial threat, but Sojka was the third batter he faced. Orange County scored their first run in the first inning when Jekich hit a leadoff single and eventually scored on a McWhorter RBI-single, and the Barons scored their first two runs on four singles, three of them with two outs in the second inning, when Joseph Argumedo (Lynn) hit a two-run single with the bases loaded. Today was the final regular season game for the two teams. Orange County, however, will play tomorrow in the first game of the CCL Playoffs at Sparky Anderson Field in Thousand Oaks. The Riptide, the No. 2 seeded team in the playoffs and the defending CCL Champion from 2017, will meet the No. 3 seeded Healdsburg Prune Packers in the noon game tomorrow. The winner of that game will meet the winner of the Santa Barbara Foresters vs. Conejo Oaks matchup at 4pm tomorrow, in the winner-takes-all championship game Sunday at noon.

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