THORNTON -- Riverdale Ridge pitcher Ty Thompson noticed one difference in this year's Ravens' baseball squad.
"We have a lot of confidence going into games," he said after shutting out Northridge High School on three hits in the first game of a doubleheader March 31. "We have a lot of good energy."
Thompson traveled to several parts of the country on summer teams.
"Just the experience of moving and playing these good teams showed me what they can do and how to play against them," Thompson said. "The teams we play here aren't as talented. But it still helps to play through it and give us the edge."
That experience has turned Thompson into an on-field coach.
"If I see someone doing something I think I can help with, I give them some advice," Thompson said. "I like helping my teammates. It makes us better."
Thompson and Ethan McCormick drove in the Ravens' first two runs in the third inning. Baryn Stark added a two-run base hit in the fourth, and Keagan Pitton closed out the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
"It helps to have your ace on the mound," RRHS coach Ray Garza said. "He blew up the zone with strikes. He had everything working and had them off-balance."
Thompson struck out 14 en route to the win. Two Grizzlies' runners advanced as far as third base. Thompson struck out five of the last six batters he faced.
"The fast ball was working really well. I was able to locate it," Thompson said. "I had a solid defense that had my back. Things worked out just great. Everything was working for me today."
The Ravens stranded 10 runners, including two innings with the bases loaded.
"We had some timely hits. But I was really frustrated with the fact that we had the bases loaded in two innings with no outs, and we had six strikeouts," Garza said. "Even on a double play, we can get a run. We have to focus on a lot of things."
The Ravens, who sport a 4-0 record through the end of the week, rolled to a 12-3 win in the nightcap over the Grizzlies. McCormick, who was the starting pitcher, had two hits and five RBIs. He also struck out six in the court if five innings on the mound. Pitton added a pair of hits. Elijah Lofton had three hits and drove in two runs.
"I told the kids our hitting and our approaches at the plate have not been good since I've been here," Garza said. "It has to change. A lot of our kids go to different hitting coaches, and everyone has their own approach. I'm not going to knock what they do. They know more than me. Our kids don't have a good plan at the plate. I'm talking about the mental approach, quality at-bats. That is a point of emphasis."
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