Sometimes a coach needs to dip into the psychology of baseball to get his team righted.
Spring break and the week following were not kind to the Ridgeview baseball team.
The Wolf Pack, after starting the season 17-2 and winning the first 10 games in South Yosemite League play, lost six consecutive including two last week to Tehachapi.
So assistant coach Robert Shahan said the coaching staff elected to give the players an extra day off last Friday in hopes something good would come of the rest.
Seemed to have worked quite well as Ridgeview (17-8, 12-2) beat Independence 3-1 at home on Tuesday behind a complete game 12-strikeout performance by senior Riley Moran.
The win secures the first outright SYL title for Ridgeview and a momentum with just one regular season game at Independence on Thursday before the Central Section Division III playoffs begin next week.
“This game is so mental,” Shahan said. “It gets to a point where you are grinding so hard that you can just hurt yourself. Sometimes you just have to take a break. We were at a point with that slump that we needed it.”
Moran said the players got together over the weekend and found a way to bound as a team, away from the baseball diamond.
“It helped us clear our minds and blow off some steam,” Moran said. “Guys got to hang out and get closer as a team off the field, which is always good.”
But, in the first inning, things didn’t go as well as expected.
Independence’s leadoff hitter Jordan Lopez led off the game with a double and scored an unearned run on a throwing error by Ridgeview catcher Miguel Castillo to first base.
“Never in four years have I seen Miguel overthrow like that. It’s crazy,” Shahan said.
But that was the lone run that crossed the plate for the Falcons (8-18, 7-7).
Moran settled in and retired seven consecutive batters and struck out at least one batter in every inning and got help from his defense as Independence threatened with runners in scoring position in the second and sixth innings.
“Today he was the ace we expected him to be,” Shahan said.
Moran helped out his own cause at the plate with an RBI single in the third inning, scoring Jose Ruiz. The Wolf Pack recorded four consecutive singles in the inning, including a 2-run single by Castillo that gave the Wolf Pack all three runs of the game.
“This is a big moment. We were in a big slump,” Moran said. “We are not content yet, absolutely not. We have have to keep on rolling. (The league championship) is a good step, but we have to get the next game and go into the playoffs on a positive note.”
Independence freshman Ryan Almengor pitched all six innings for the Falcons, striking out five and only giving up one hit in the other five innings beyond the four hits and three runs he gave up in the third.