CARY, N.C.—Coming from Highlands Ranch, Colo., ThunderRidge High’s pitchers have had to adjust to pitching at lower altitudes, as has catcher Seth Barnes.
“The ball moves a lot more down here,” coach Joe White said, “especially the breaking ball. But I think our pitchers like it.”
Reliever Tyler Loptien showed he had adjusted in the seventh inning Thursday, throwing a 2-2 breaking ball at 73 mph, locking up T.C. Roberson star Braxton Davidson and striking him out. Loptien, the Grizzlies’ closer the last two years and a San Diego State recruit, got a groundball out to end the game and preserve a 9-7 victory.
“He’s been up to 87-89, though he’s not there yet,” White said of Loptien, who came in from right field sitting 82-84 Thursday morning. “But he really competes. He’s done that for two years for us.”
ThunderRidge put up a five spot in the second and had an 8-6 lead after three innings before the two teams’ bullpens kept the game in check. Davidson had two hits for T.C. Roberson, while starting pitcher Ryan Goode had a two-run single in the first that gave the Rams a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Junior second baseman Josh Brown had four RBIs for ThunderRidge, including a three-run double in the second and an RBI single in the third.
“He’s a good athlete,” White said. “Josh started for us as a sophomore and has become a big-time player for us. I think he’s going to wind up playing (college baseball), because he’s a good athlete.”