Playing its first game in more than a year, the Ripon High School Tiger baseball team got off to a rough start last night (Wednesday).

It fell behind Waupun, which has been playing games for weeks as a result of being a “club” team, 5-0 in the top of the first inning and couldn’t overcome that deficit as it lost 6-2.

Ripon began practicing a week earlier (July 1), the earliest day allowed for high school teams by the WIAA as part of a 30-day period for spring sports activity after the initial season was canceled as a result of COVID-19.

The rust was evident from the start as Sam Vanevenhoven struggled to find the strike zone. He walked four batters in the inning and also threw a wild pitch that allowed the batter to reach base on a strikeout. He didn’t receive much help as an error led to all five runs in the inning being unearned.

The bats also took a little time to get going for Ripon as the first seven batters were retired by Waupun’s Brayden Sanders, four of whom were via strikeouts. Sawyer Damm got the goose egg out of the hit column with one out in the third, while Peth also collected a hit for the Tigers’ first scoring threat of the game. Damm, however, was thrown out at home on a double-steal attempt to end the frame.

After going down quietly in the fourth, Ripon got on the scoreboard in the fifth as it strung together three-straight singles, the third of which by Garrett Jennings drove in Jaxson Banks and Dayton Baird.

The Tigers also had two runners on in the sixth with just one out, but couldn’t do anything with them as the next two batters struck out.

They also were set down in order in the seventh on strikeouts.

On the mound, Ripon settled down after the first inning thanks to Conor Diedrich and Dwight Koehler. The two pitchers combined to toss five scoreless innings of two-hit ball, while striking out six.

Jennings pitched the final inning, and after walking the first two and having a run score on an error, retired the next three batters.

The Tigers got 18 players at bats in the game, while Waupun (5-2 overall) had only nine players step to the plate.

The Tigers are scheduled to return to action tonight (Thursday), when it hosts another “club” team in the Laconia Spartans at 6 p.m.

Jonathan Bailey has been covering sports and general news assignments for the Ripon Commonwealth Press since 2011. He is a former reporter for The Green Laker, a summer publication produced by the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and now is its editor.

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