Clutch ‘K’ preserves Rancho baseball victory

The last thing Rancho baseball coach Tom Pletsch wanted to see was Durango’s Anthony Parry standing in the batter’s box one more time.

Jose Verdugo made sure Parry didn’t come back to the plate.

Verdugo struck out Brett Neighbors with two runners on base in the seventh inning to preserve an 11-10 home win for the Rams. The strikeout left Parry, who was 4-for-4 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs, in the on-deck circle.

“Parry had an incredible day,” Pletsch said. “He hit three different pitches. With him in the on-deck circle, we wanted to end it with the No. 3 hitter. We went to the closer, and Jose Verdugo did a great job of striking the kid out.”

Pletsch used an unorthodox strategy in the bottom of the sixth that was crucial in bringing home the go-ahead run.

With the game tied at 10, the Rams had runners at first and second with one out, and Pletsch elected to have No. 9 hitter Richmond Ashworth sacrifice, even though the go-ahead run already was in scoring position.

Bryce Harrell then ripped a liner that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman Vince Lombardi to shortstop John Wright for an infield single. Alex Jordan scored from third, but Wright might have had a force-out at second had Pletsch not chosen to sacrifice.

“When you’re in a tie ballgame, you’ve got to get the run, and we’ll play small ball to get it,” Pletsch said.

Rancho (6-3) trailed for much of the game, but battled back with four runs in the fourth to tie the game at 8 and two in the fifth to tie the score at 10.

Rancho senior first baseman Kiefer McClendon couldn’t match Parry, but was 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three RBIs. His two-run homer in the fifth tied the game at 10. Verdugo, David Modler and Jordan each added two hits.

Artie Gallegos, Wright and Neighbors each had two hits for Durango (2-8).