SACRAMENTO — After a pair of convincing postseason victories, Oak Ridge suffered an abysmal offensive outing, falling to Delta River League rival Jesuit 8-0 in Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I baseball playoff semi-final match-up.
The Trojans arrived to American River College with just one win standing between them and a championship birth. But with starting pitchers Chris Muse-Fisher and Austin Ales unavailable after already throwing gems in the playoffs, the starting pitcher responsibility fell on first basemen/pitcher Alex Fitchett.
Fitchett, who pitched sparingly for Troy in 2011, squared off against a potent Marauder line-up and an even more potent pitcher in staff ace Logan James.
Offensively Oak Ridge sputtered out of the gate, striking out seven times in the first nine at bats against the hard throwing south-paw James.
But despite James’ dominance, Fitchett kept pace beautifully. Through four innings both pitchers had yet to surrender a run while allowing just one hit a piece to the opposing offenses.
“He (Fitchett) did great. He did more than we could ask for,” Trojan coach Todd Melton said.
With the game scoreless heading into the fifth, Fitchett began to waiver from the strike-zone. After walking Jesuit right fielder Parker Abercrombie, Melton went to the bullpen in search of a fresh arm.
Left fielder Lance Berringer entered the game in relief, walking the first batter he faced before inducing a ground ball out to second baseman Mason Watkins who was drawn into the infield grass in order to cut down Abercrombie from third, who previously advanced on a wild pitch.
Marauder center fielder Brian Celsi made the shallow Oak Ridge infield pay on the following at bat with a bouncing single just over the outstretched arms of Watkins to score two. Berringer answered with a strikeout to record the second out but the Trojans’ inning began to unravel after center fielder Cole Hansen lost a pop-up up in the lights to spot Jesuit its third run.
The fifth continued to drag on for Oak Ridge – finally culminating after seven Marauder runs had crossed home, leaving the Trojan faithful scratching their heads.
“We just have to go the long way but we are okay,” Melton said.
After recording just three hits, Troy will look to regroup in a match-up with league foe Pleasant Grove for a spot in the championship round.