2014 NHSI: ThunderRidge Picks Up First Victory

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.”

Josh Brown

Josh Brown (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)

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.”