A Tale of
This is a tale of two
ballplayers—excellent in their own right—who, by luck of the draw, came together from
different continents to star at Capital Christian High School. Not only do they wear the same
uniform, they share the same bedroom and a dream of playing in the major
Ritchey is the
All-American kid who plays baseball with a skill and savvy beyond his years. As a freshman at
Capital Christian, he posted a 4-4-2 pitching record with 65 strikeouts (versus 24 walks) in 52
innings and a 2.56 ERA. Plus, he batted .459.
As a sophomore he
improved the average to .493, but zoomed ahead in the pitching department, posting a 9-3 record
with 85 Ks against 22 walks and a 1.78 ERA. He made All-Golden Empire
He prides himself on his
mound prowess. “I’ve always loved pitching,” Ritchey
says. “I hit to help my team out, but I love pitching.”
Two summers ago, a contingent from Capital Christian, led by Coach Nelson Randolph, went to Honduras on a baseball mission to pass
out equipment, upgrade playing fields, and share the gospel, according to Andy Ritchey, Ben’s father and one of the
While playing a team
from San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city,
a lanky local lad asked if he could return to America with the “baseball missionaries” to
fulfill his dream of playing in the United States. Prepared for this moment, Mr. Ritchey agreed
to have Mauricio Dubon live with the
Ritchey family where he could attend and play with Ben at Capital
After all the travel
arrangements were made, Ritchey remembers watching the boy saying goodbye to his parents, who
knew that baseball afforded their son a better opportunity. He couldn’t help but wonder how
difficult it must have been for these parents to watch their youngest son leave with a foreigner
they had known less than three days.
But Mauricio, also known
as “Mauro,” was not just a typical Honduran youth with a dream. He was a star on the Honduran
National Baseball Team from age seven to 14 and had established himself as the slickest fielding shortstop in his age group. Mauro’s
10-12 year old team won a championship in the Bronx, New York, so he was no stranger to
international travel or success on the diamond.
Registered to attend
Capital Christian in fall 2010, Mauro quickly became homesick and returned to Honduras
before stepping on campus. During that time, he continued to work out under the supervision of
his older brother Danilo, also a Honduran National team player.
Last summer, Dubon
returned to the US and spent the summer living with the Ritchey family and playing on travel
teams with Ben. This past fall, he enrolled at Capital Christian where he and Ben began their
In his third varsity season, Ritchey continued his upward arc to prep greatness. He hit .513 with
12 doubles, three triples and one homer, while his pitching stats were some of the best in the
area: 8-2-1 record with a scant 0.72 ERA (3rd best). He was named most
valuable player of the Golden Empire League.
Dubon, on the other
hand, came from nowhere to charge up the charts in several hitting categories for all Sacramento
area players. He was fourth in regular season batting average with .563, smacked nine doubles,
three triples and four home runs, plus he posted the second best RBI mark with 45 and led the
area in slugging percentage with 1.085.
And to top it off, he
may have been the finest fielding shortstop in the four-county region (all due respect to Zach
Green of Jesuit, who was drafted in the third round and just signed with
One night this past season at Raley Field, both Ritchey and Dubon showcased their skills and proved
why they were among the elite players in the Sacramento area.
Ben Ritchey pitching in a game at Raley
Prior to the game
against league rival Dixon, Ritchey was asked about Korey Hall, the Rams slugger, who at the time was leading the
area with a .612 batting average. With Clint Eastwood-like coolness, Ritchey said he had a plan
to get him out with a two-seam fastball above the hands.
In the first inning,
after dispatching the first two Dixon batters, Ritchey got two quick strikes on Hall. The next
pitch, a two-seam fireball, zoomed in above Hall’s hands as he struck out swinging. Exactly as
planned. Ritchey would cancel Hall on strikes once more, effectively yanking the batting title
away (which went to Grant Heisinger of Bradshaw Christian with .600
In the bottom of the
first inning, Dubon laced a hit in the gap and raced to third for a triple. Later, he smashed a
ball over the left field fence near the Home Run Terrace. And for good measure, Mauro made one
of the most dazzling defensive plays from the shortstop position of the high school
With a Rams runner on
first, he fielded a sharply-hit ball in the hole. Dubon raced to his right, slid to one knee
while backhanding the hot smash, and in one fluid motion reversed direction and flipped a
perfect throw to second base to start a successful double play. A web gem for
“It’s really nice
knowing you have that behind you,” Ritchey said later.
“Having two players with this much talent on our team is unbelievable,” says head coach Randolph.
“It truly is a blessing,” said Randolph, who showered praise on both Ritchey and Dubon when
told they had been selected to the All-Capitol
Team by BaseballSacramento.com.
Dubon and Ritchey led Capital Christian to one of its finest seasons ever with a perfect 15-0 mark
in league play and 24-5 overall record, which included a run in the
“I like to play with a chip on my shoulder, because people really don’t respect us so much since
we’re a Division 5 school,” Ritchey says with refreshing honestly. “I go out there and really want
to prove something every day.”
He admits he wonders how he would stack up full-time against players from Division 1 or 2 teams. In
a playoff tune-up against McClatchy he got a taste.
With Capital Christian
leading 7-1 in the sixth inning, Ritchey was summoned in relief with the bases loaded. Lions
slugger Jared James, hitless on the day, stepped to
the plate. With the count 1-2, Ben threw a change-up down and away. James, who would lead the
area in home runs with seven, “stepped over (the plate) and stroked it,” Ritchey marvels,
admitting giving up the grand slam was a first. “It was definitely
This summer, Ritchey and
Dubon are playing for the Sacramento Stingers, a 17U
travel ball team organized and coached by Reggie Christiansen of Sacramento State, who led his team to
a share of the Western Athletic Conference title in 2012. That team is chock full of some
of the best talent in the area, including players from Jesuit, Oak Ridge and Granite Bay as well
as lower division schools like Capital Christian.
In a recent qualifier
for the Don Mattingly World Series, the Stingers swept the tournament (6-0 record) and
Dubon was chosen MVP.
Mauricio Dubon sliding into third base in a game at Raley Field.
When Dubon first
reported to Capital Christian admittedly he thought of himself a slap-hitter known more for his
glove and speed. Last fall, during a batting practice round, assistant coach Terrance Ballard asked Dubon if he was a contact hitter or a
power hitter? The Honduran admitted he was the former. Ballard then bounced a baseball against
his bat. “That’s contact,” the coach said, illustrating his point. “Now, let’s see you hit for
And from that moment on,
“He’s a guy that has all
the ability in the world. He just didn’t get all the information he needed,” Ballard said
recently. “To me, he’s a kid that can’t miss. He just needs more seasoning (in
The two boys from
different continents share more than just baseball.
When Dubon moved into
the Ritchey household, he was given his own room right next to Ben, whose two older sisters had
moved out. The third night Ben was awakened by a knock on his door. It was Mauro, holding a
blanket and asking if he could sleep in the same room. He admitted being scared, as he had never
slept alone in his family’s home. From that time on, Ben and Mauricio have bunked together and
become inseparable, both on and off the field.
The Ritchey household
has become his home and Mauro admits he’s thankful for this opportunity to live in America and
attend a Christian school. “I’m a believer and it’s helped me improve my relationship with God.”
Moreover, it will move
him closer to his dream of becoming the first Honduran to play in the major
Ritchey shares a similar
dream. “Pro baseball, that’s really what I have my heart set on.”
Andy Ritchey continually
preaches the value of a college education, and both boys are committed to making that their next
But first they have one
more season left at Capital Christian.
And what a season it
should be for two of the most talented and hard working prep players in the