After a 13-1 start, the six sophomores and one freshman in the Rancho baseball team’s starting lineup didn’t seem to have much of a learning curve.
But after watching his team lose three of its past four games, Rams coach Tom Pletsch said there is still plenty of growing up to do.
Taylorsville (Utah) handed Rancho an 8-4 home loss Thursday in a winners’ bracket quarterfinal of the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic Blue Division tournament.
“Right now, we’re pretty fragile,” Pletsch said. “We need to jump on people from the beginning rather than get jumped on. We’re just not a very mature team, and we’ve really got to step up.”
Rancho (14-4) has been outscored 37-17 in its past four games — a far cry from the team that won its first 10 by a combined score of 88-22.
The Rams fell into the consolation bracket of the 16-team tournament, where they’ll play at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Hadland Park against a team to be determined.
Rancho starting pitcher Zak Qualls entered with a 4-2 record but lasted only 1 1/3 innings. He was hit with the loss after allowing three runs on four hits and five walks.
P.J. Matha struck out four in 3 2/3 solid innings of relief, but the Rams were unable to erase a 4-0 deficit after two innings.
“It started with our pitching,” Pletsch said. “If you don’t start throwing strikes at the beginning, it kind of buries you.”
Gabe Chavira and Justin Neubauer hit consecutive RBI singles in the bottom of the third to pull the Rams within 4-2, but they got no closer. Tim Lesuma’s two-run homer in the sixth extended the Warriors’ lead to 8-2.
“We had a couple opportunities to score some runs and we didn’t make it happen,” said Pletsch, whose team left six runners stranded in the first four innings.
Neubauer was 3-for-3 and Eric Holdren 2-for-3 with an RBI for Rancho. Roy Sipes belted his first career home run — a solo shot with two outs — in the sixth.
Pletsch said changes will be in store for the Rams’ lineup for the rest of the tournament.
“We’re going to shake a few things up and try to find ourselves in the next two games,” he said. “We’re trying to solve a few problems more than anything, then Wednesday we’re back in league with Desert Pines and ready to go.”
Cimarron-Memorial 8, Alta (Utah) 7 — At Cimarron, A.J. Hernandez singled to left with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh to score Sam Lindsey with the winning run.
Dyllon Nuernberg was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer in the sixth that gave the Spartans a 7-4 lead. The Hawks tied the game with three runs in the top of the seventh.
Cimarron’s Kris Kaplan was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, and Kody Gorden and Lindsey each added two hits.
Cimarron-Memorial 7, Menlo (Calif.) 4 — At Cimarron, Brad Oswald’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth broke a 4-4 tie as the Spartans moved into the semifinals of the Blue Division of the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic.
Kaz Smith added an RBI double, and Nuernberg hit an RBI single for the final margin.
Smith was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Taylor Doyle added two hits and an RBI.
Menlo’s Danny Diekroger went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and three RBIs.
Bishop Gorman 17, Mater Dei (Calif.) 6 — At the College of Southern Nevada, Johnny Field was 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double, six RBIs and three runs as the Gaels rolled to the five-inning win in the Blue Division of the Desert Classic.
Joey Rickard was 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, three RBIs and three runs for Gorman, which plays Cimarron at 3 p.m. Friday at CSN.
Stephen Manthei, Neil Lawhorn and Joey Gallo each added two hits for the Gaels.
Eldorado 10, Hillcrest (Utah) 4 — At Eldorado, Casey Roehr struck out 13 in six innings to lead the Sundevils to victory in the Orange Division of the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic.
Roehr allowed no earned runs on six hits.
Zach Cook was 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the offense. Daniel LeCavalier was 2-for-3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs and
Jared Hoven doubled, tripled and scored twice.
Eldorado 15, Horizon (Calif.) 5 — At Eldorado, winning pitcher Eric Larsen went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs to lead the Sundevils to the five-inning win.
Isaiah Hernandez (two RBIs), Hoven (two runs), Roehr (two runs) and LeCavaliere (three RBIs) each had two hits for Eldorado.
Shadow Ridge 9, Olympus (Utah) 1 — At Hadland Park, Andrew Mahalik threw a four-hitter to lead the Mustangs in the Orange Division of the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic.
Colt Stout was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Jordan Blaylock went 2-for-3 with a double and a run for Shadow Ridge.
Braden Keathley’s double was one of two Silverado hits.
Westview (Calif.) 7, Foothill 3 — At San Diego, the Wolverines used a three-run fourth inning to take control and beat the Falcons in the Lions Tournament.
Beatty 7-8, Round Mountain 5-0 — At Beatty, Anthony Regalado tossed a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the second game as the Hornets swept a doubleheader from the Knights.
Regalado went 2-for-3 and scored twice in the second game as Beatty used a six-run third inning to take a 7-0 lead. Jose Moreno was 2-for-3 for the Hornets.
In the opener, Kyle Marchand went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and an RBI to help Beatty overcome a 3-0 deficit with a seven-run fifth inning.
Joe Serrano went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Hornets.
Round Mountain’s Curtis Shank and Justin Browning each went 3-for-4. Shank had two triples and two RBIs.
Chaparral beat Cimarron-Memorial’s junior varsity 4-2 and defeated Desert Pines 11-1 on Thursday to win the Cowboy Classic.
Chaparral and Bishop Gorman Blue JV both finished 4-1 in the tournament, but Chaparral won the title because of a head-to-head victory.