EL DORADO HILLS – In a matchup between the two top-ranked teams in the area, host Oak Ridge left the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday, falling 6-5 to No. 1 Elk Grove.
“We’re easily as good as those guys . We had so many opportunities. Early in the game, we had runners in scoring position with less than two outs. We just didn’t take advantage of it,” Trojan coach Todd Melton said.
Trailing 6-3 with three outs left, Logan Denholm popped out but Alec de Watteville reached on pure hustle and Ross Dwelley walked with Evan Gross coming in to pinch run. An Elk Grove pickoff attempt sailed into center field, advancing both, and after a strikeout Logan Marston earned a two-out walk to load the bases. F.P. Santangelo Jr. hit a screaming ground ball up the middle to score two and advance pinch runner Chris Roppolo to third base. With a chance to tie or win the game, a ground out ended the game.
In the first inning, Oak Ridge pitched Tommy Hummer worked himself out of a jam, striking out Dom Nunez, a UCLA commit and Ryan Tellez, a top pro prospect, before inducing a fly out to strand two.
Troy got on the board first in the bottom of the inning. Mickey Meinhofer blooped a single into right field, moved to third base when Denholm doubled off the left field wall and scored when de Watteville’s ground ball ran past the third baseman.
Hummer retired the Thundering Herd in order in the top of the second but the top of the third was Elk Grove’s breakthrough inning as it scored five times, highlighted by Nunez’ two-run single.
In the bottom half Oak Ridge answered with two as de Watteville worked a walk, advanced on a fielder’s choice and scored when Tanner Ales hit a liner into right field. Marston then scored Ales with a rocket shot to center.
Jack Rico tracked down a Tellez bomb and made a sliding catch and Marston caught Nunez stealing to deny the Herd in the fourth and the score stayed 5-3 until the seventh when a controversial call ruled that an Elk Grove batter was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded. Tellez trotted home and scored what proved to be the deciding run.
“If we can take some of the urgency like we had in the last inning in our early at-bats, then we’re right there. We have just as much talent as anybody. We just have to continue to get better every day,” Melton said.
Oak Ridge (3-1) next plays Thursday at home against Yuba City and then in the Boras Invitational.