SUNRISE REGION: Rancho finds relief in victory

Brandon Pletsch helped Rancho’s baseball team secure many victories this season with his bat and aggressive baserunning.

On Saturday at Green Valley, Pletsch used his arm to win the biggest game of the season for the Rams.

Pletsch allowed one run in five innings of relief, and Rancho rallied for six runs in the bottom of the third to come from behind and beat Green Valley 11-5 for the Sunrise Region title.

With the win, the Rams (30-3) secured a berth in the Class 4A state tournament, which begins Thursday in Reno.

“He’s my son, and as a father, I’m very proud,” Rancho coach Tom Pletsch said. “As a coach, he’s our leader.”

Green Valley (29-7) batted around in the top of the second, scoring four runs on two hits and three walks against Rancho ace Eric Holdren, who was battling a leg problem.

“Eric kind of tweaked a hamstring or a hip or something earlier last week, and it’s been bothering him, and he just couldn’t go,” Tom Pletsch said.

So in stepped the younger Pletsch, who retired the first five batters he faced to help the Rams stay afloat.

In five innings, Brandon Pletsch allowed three hits and struck out seven.

“I was just trying to keep us close and see if I could battle and pull us through,” Brandon Pletsch said. “I didn’t know I was going to pitch like that.”

The Rams sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs to take the lead for good.

“It was very relieving, especially when I’m in the game and things are going the way they are,” Brandon Pletsch said.

The big blow of the inning came from reserve Jason Turner, who replaced Holdren in the lineup. Turner lined a two-out double that one-hopped the fence in left-center field to bring home two runs and give Rancho a 5-4 lead.

The 5-foot-5-inch, 105-pound Turner then scored on a single by Michael Cruz that made it 6-4.

“Pound for pound, he’s a heck of a little player, and I’ve been telling him all year he’s going to get his opportunity and it’s probably going to be in the playoffs,” Tom Pletsch said. “And he always comes through.”

Brandon Pletsch and Scott Koenen then hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the fourth to push the Rams’ lead to 8-4.

“There was still a lot of life in the game, and it was still close,” Tom Pletsch said. “And when Brandon and Scotty went back to back, that definitely got the emotion going for us again.

“The kids weren’t going to be denied today.”

Brandon Pletsch worked ahead of hitters all game. He threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of 21 batters. Of his 74 pitches, 49 were strikes.

“Brandon’s got to get ahead in the count,” Tom Pletsch said. “If he works ahead in the count, his slider works real well.”

Brandon Pletsch went 2-for-3 with three runs, and Koenen was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Gabe Chavira (3-for-4) and Josh Gomez (2-for-4) each added two RBIs for Rancho.

Bobby Shiroky was 2-for-4, and Scott Arn had a two-run single for Green Valley.