EPHRATA - Senior Mike Ratigan proved to be every bit as good as advertised. The Ephrata hurler one-hit the Sunnyside High School baseball team through four innings yesterday enroute to the Tigers scoring a 5-0 non-league victory over the Grizzlies.
Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez said he knew his club was going to face the collegiate prospect when he spotted the University of Washington's head baseball coach at the Ephrata field yesterday.
Ratigan, a right-hander, was imposing enough when he delivered his fast ball in the 86 or 87 mph range, spotting nearly all his pitches down in the zone. The kicker, though, was his slider, which Martinez and the rest of the Grizzlies could only describe as "nasty."
"He's the best pitcher we've seen this season," said Martinez. "We can't simulate that in practice.
"But you know, we had some good at-bats against him. Not a lot of hits, but some real good at-bats," Martinez said.
The Sunnyside coach cited the efforts of sophomores Gibby Briones and Diego Burgueno as examples. Briones, batting lead-off for the Grizzlies, was robbed of a hit in the top of the first when an infielder went deep into the hole to snare a hot shot grounder, fielded it and threw the speedster out at first. Briones came through with a single off Ratigan in the third. Burgueno had a 12-pitch at-bat against Ratigan in his first at-bat of the day, eventually drawing a walk off the flame thrower. Burgueno, too, had the Grizzlies' only other hit of the day, that a single in the seventh inning off the Ephrata relief pitcher.
"The kid who took over for Ratigan in the fifth inning, Forrest, was pretty good, himself," said Martinez.
Sunnyside (1-3-1) was unable to advance a runner past first yesterday.
The Tigers, on the other hand, took advantage of four Sunnyside errors and used the five hits they scraped together off five Grizzly pitchers to eke out the 5-0 win.
Sunnyside's undoing came in the bottom of the second. Ephrata plated three runs that frame, thanks to three Grizzly errors. The most costly of the miscues was a grounder that should have been fielded by Sunnyside's first baseman. The right fielder, backing up the play, over-ran the ball. The third error of the inning came on a double play attempt.
The two runs the Tigers plated in the bottom of the sixth also were partly due to a Sunnyside error, when an outfielder dropped a fly ball.
Ephrata's Aaron Lutz had the only multi-hit performance of the day, going 2-for-3 with a double in the fourth.
Despite the mistakes in the field and the lack of hits, Martinez said he came away from Tuesday's game feeling good about the effort of his bullpen. Five Grizzly pitchers combined to limit Ephrata to two earned runs and just five hits.
"They weren't dominating, but were good enough to win," he said.
With the exception of two mid-season contests against Rochester and Hermiston, the Grizzlies have faced the bulk of their non-league schedule. Martinez isn't concerned that his team has only one victory to show for its five early outings.
"We could have arranged a non-league schedule where we could be sitting at 5-0 at this point in time," Martinez said, "But that wouldn't have prepared us for what we're going to face when we jump into league play.
"From what we've seen so far, we believe we have a good team that is going to battle when league rolls around. We like our chances," he said.
Martinez and the Grizzlies will jump into conference play this coming Saturday, when they host the perennially tough Selah Vikings. Things don't get any easier for Sunnyside, as the following Saturday the Grizzlies will travel to West Valley to take on a Rams bunch that always contends for the league title.
S'side 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0 2 4
E'ph 0 3 0 0 0 2 x -5 5 1
WP-Ratigan. LP-Miller (0-2).
Miller, Engel (2), Boboth (4), Briones (5), Zakahi (6) and Burgueno. Ratigan, Forrest (5) and Bossert. Sunnyside highlights: Briones 1/3, Burgueno 1/3. Ephrata highlights: Lutz 2/3, 2B.