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Pitching leads the way for Trojans

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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With a number of top pitchers coming through Oak Ridge High the last few years, baseball coach Todd Melton is used to seeing strong outings from his hurlers. Last week the Trojans had three superlative performances from Alex Fitchett, Austin Root and Lance Berringer coming against top programs in Franklin, Elk Grove and Yuba City. Oak Ridge won two of those games; beating Franklin, 8-1 and Elk Grove, 3-1, before losing Saturday to Yuba City, 2-1, in eight innings. If Oak Ridge continues to get the pitching they’ve gotten so far, the team figures to make a deep run in the playoffs. “With guys like Porter, Mills, Cantaloube, Muse-Fisher and Ales, I’ve seen week’s like this before,” Melton said. “Pitching has always been our strength and now it’s just their (Fitchett, Root and Berringer) turn. These guys are now getting their opportunity to prove themselves.” Fitchett carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Franklin on Wednesday, while Root held a strong Elk Grove team to one run and three hits, while pitching into the seventh inning on Thursday, as the Trojans won both games. On top of strong pitching the Trojans got off to quick starts too; scoring five runs in the first against Franklin on their way to an 8-1 win and scoring all three of their runs in a 3-1 win over the Herd. Fitchett struck out five and walked four in the win over Franklin, allowing only one run and one hit before Jason Ross pitched the last two innings. Offensively, Zack Mahan and Ross had two hits, while Alec DeWatteville and Cody Uharriet knocked in two runs apiece. Coming off a varsity debut in which he allowed only one hit against Rosemont, Root proved that his performance was no fluke, as he pitched extremely well for 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and finishing with seven strikeouts, while walking three. Ross came on to get the last two outs to earn the save. DeWatteville started Oak Ridge’s rally in the first inning with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Mason Watkins singled him home. Cody Morris and Lance Berringer had back-to-back groundouts to score Watkins and Mahon to make the score 3-0. Watkins was the only Trojan to have two hits. Oak Ridge wasted a strong performance by Berringer on Saturday because they only managed one run against Yuba City. The Trojans’ run came in the second on a RBI single by John Rico, which scored Berringer, who allowed two hits and only struck out one in 5 1/3 innings of work. Yuba City tied the game in the seventh and won it in the eighth, 2-1. The Trojans only managed four hits in the game, two by Rico. “I’m not really happy with our offense,” Melton said. “We’re capable of way more and I’m sure the guys believe that. We’ve had some good innings, but we’re leaving a lot of guys on base. We’ve got to work on some things.” Melton, though, feels the pitching can continue to be productive. “There’s a reason why Alex has a scholarship to Sac State,” Melton said. “We’ve all seen what he can do. He just needs to be consistent. Austin’s only had two starts, but he’s got three pitches and he locates so I don’t know why he can’t keep it going. Lance will continue to improve as he develops his second and third pitches.” The Trojans, 3-2 on the year, have three games scheduled this week. After playing Del Oro on Tuesday, the Trojans travel to Granite Bay on Thursday and open the SureWest Tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday against Lincoln at Casa Roble.