A breakout win like Cedar Ridge earned over Riverside on Thursday night might be the confidence boost the Red Wolves need to turn their season around.
Cedar Ridge (7-5) was in the throes of a four-game losing streak until its 9-8 win over the Pirates in the opening round of the Hilltop Invitational.
"It wasn't easy but it was nice to pull through like that," Cedar Ridge coach Jamie Athas said. "We've struggled a bit of late so it was nice to get the energy back and the fire back to take care of a win."
Athas said his team was in the games they lost and that it was late-inning downfalls that they needed to turn around during their skid.
"It was a little demoralizing in that stretch so it was nice to get out to a good start against Riverside," Athas said. "We had a little hiccup but the guys stayed with it and were able to win."
The Red Wolves enjoyed success at the plate and in the field against Riverside, though they needed to survive a shaky sixth inning before finally holding on for the victory.
Cedar Ridge jumped on Riverside early by scoring in each of the first four innings. The Red Wolves got a pair of runs in the first thanks to three hits. They added another in the second with a hit and an error by the Pirates. In the fourth they got two more and finally broke the game game open, or so they thought, with four more in the fourth.
The Red Wolves pounded out 13 hits against Riverside.
Cedar Ridge got good pitching for the most part, too.
Starter Brandon Andrews was strong for the first three, allowing only one runner on a base hit. But in the fourth, Andrews' command went away and he gave up a walk, a single and two more walks before exiting. Evan Hall took over but Riverside was able to get three runs in before Hall ended the threat with a strikeout. Hall came back with an effective fifth inning.
The only real trouble the Red Wolves faced came in the sixth as Riverside sent nine batters up to hit. James Davis gave up a leadoff double to Kimball Toone and the he hit Chris Mitchell before walking Brandon Goss to load the bases, which ended Davis' night. Erick Zehnder then took over and got two outs but not before Riverside scored three runs that belonged to Davis. Sophomore Phillip Berger III finally ended the Riverside threat.
Berger said there were some good things to build on with the win, especially after losing the previous four games.
"As it got tighter, we pulled together because we knew we needed to win this game," Berger said. "It was an important game to us. I think we were just lacking confidence in the last four games. We know how to hit. We just needed to know that we could do it again."