Written by Raptors Broadcaster Josh Worden
The Ridgefield Raptors follow up their first playoff series victory in team history by facing the Corvallis Knights in the Southern Division Championship on Saturday, in a rematch of last year’s playoffs.
Ridgefield swept Portland earlier this week with a 9-8 home win and a 7-5 victory at Walker Stadium. Portland was 36-16 in the regular season and had not lost a home game since July 7, but the Raptors never trailed on Wednesday night. Travis Welker had the game-winning base hit, scoring two runs on a single in the 8th inning.
Ridgefield went 6-2 against the Pickles this summer.
Ridgefield is 4-2 against Corvallis, including a series win to close the regular season. The Raptors also faced Corvallis to close the first half, when Ridgefield needed a series sweep to win the first half title and Corvallis needed just one win of the three games to do the same. Ridgefield won the first two games to set up a winner-take-all contest, which Corvallis won at home.
Ridgefield faced Corvallis in the playoffs last year, losing both games in the Raptors’ first ever trip to the postseason. Since only four teams made the playoffs last year, that round was the Southern Division Championship. This year, Ridgefield won a series to get back to the Southern Division Championship, which is now a one-game, winner-take-all round.
The victor will play in the one-game WCL Championship on Monday. Ridgefield could host that game if Wenatchee advances, but if the Bells wins the North, the Raptors would go to Bellingham for the final game of the 2022 summer.
Nate Weeldreyer is the probable starter for Ridgefield on Saturday, a returning Raptor who pitches for Gonzaga.
The Raptors endured a wild game at Walker Stadium on Wednesday night to eliminate the Pickles, giving up a 3-run home run in the 7th inning to tie, 5-5. Ridgefield then allowed the bases loaded but Braydon Youkon got out of the jam with a fly ball. Ridgefield then claimed the lead right back the next inning on Travis Welker’s single to right center field, scoring Austin Caviness and Henry Muench.
Portland threatened in the 8th inning and had Eddie Saldivar coming to the plate, who had homered twice in the series with his 3-run tying shot in his most recent at bat. Eli Shubert entered, struck him out, and proceeded to pitch a scoreless 9th inning. Shubert saved both games in the Portland series, the first two playoff wins in team history. His battery mate in both games was Isaac Lovings, the only other Ridgefield Raptor to have played in all three of Ridgefield’s seasons.
By earning the sweep, Ridgefield had an extra day off compared to Corvallis, which played Yakima Valley on Thursday night. It was the first time all summer Ridgefield had two days off between games. Saturday will be the 60th game of the summer for the Raptors and the first one that could be the team’s last. But if the Raptors win, Ridgefield will make the WCL Championship for the first time in team history.