Slump staggers Rancho

After a 13-1 start, the six sophomores and one freshman in Rancho’s baseball lineup appeared to be gliding along a comfortable learning curve.

But after being outscored 37-17 while losing three of their last four games, the Rams have much growing up to do, coach Tom Pletsch said.

Taylorsville (Utah) handed Rancho an 8-4 home loss in a winners’ bracket quarterfinal of the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic Blue Division tournament Thursday.

“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.”

The Rams (14-4) fell into the consolation bracket of the 16-team tournament. They will play at 8:30 p.m. today at Hadland Park against a team to be determined.

The slump has been especially surprising considering Rancho (14-4) won its first 10 games by a combined 88-22.

Pletch vowed to make lineup changes, saying, “We’re going to shake a few things up and try to find ourselves in the next two games.”

Rancho starter Zak Qualls entered with a 4-2 record, but lasted only 1 1/3 innings and absorbed 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.

Gabe Chavira and Justin Neubauer hit RBI singles in the third to lift the Rams within 4-2, but they got no closer. Tim Lesuma padded Taylorsville’s lead with a two-run homer in the sixth.

Neubauer was 3-for-3, Eric Holdren 2-for-3 and Roy Sipes hit his first homer for Rancho, a solo shot in the sixth.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@ or 702-387-5203.

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