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Ridgeview pounces on North early, advances to D-III baseball quarterfinals

After a rough close to the regular season, the Ridgeview baseball team took its frustration out on North in the opening round of the Division III Central Section Tournament.

The Wolf Pack put the leadoff man on base in their first five at bats, the first four of which came on extra-base hits as fourth-seeded Ridgeview advanced with a 10-2 win over the 13th-seeded Stars on Wednesday.

Joseph Alatorre started the early inning offensive onslaught with a triple to lead off the first inning, eventually coming around on a double by Adan Rivera. Adam Salazar then kick-started a three-run second inning with a double, before the leadoff barrage got even more intense during the next two innings. 

Ethan Trejo led off the third inning with a home run, as Ridgeview closed the frame with a 7-0 lead. After the Stars got a run back in the top of the fourth, Jorge Gutierrez immediately responded with a home run over the right field wall.

"(Those extra base hits) really set the tone," said Gutierrez, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and a run. "The first hitter always sets the tone for the whole game. Our leadoff guy came out with a triple and that set the tone and it showed on the scoreboard."

Trejo also had two RBIs, as did Andres Rivera, who was one of just three Wolf Pack starters not to record an extra base hit.

The Wolf Pack also benefited from gusty, swirling winds that at times made fielding fly balls virtually impossible.

The regular season didn't end in great fashion for Ridgeview, which entered section play on a five-game losing streak. But playing in a Division I league for the first time, players say the difficult competition helped to get them ready for postseason play.

"I think it just prepared us for today," Gutierrez said. "We knew that we were the better team and we came out and played like it."

Three wins away from a section title, Ridgeview coach Jason Hunsaker is hoping to follow a similar formula the rest of the way, beginning with a 4:30 p.m. semifinal home matchup against No. 5 seed Firebaugh on Friday.

"Pitching's got to stay consistent and we've got to keep hitting the baseball,"  Hunsaker said. "It's simple baseball."

The Stars, who entered the game on a seven-game win streak, got RBIs from Carson Dahlstrom in the fourth inning and James Dominguez in the fifth. They finished the season 10-9-1.