Even by the wacky standards of 2017, Saturday night’s game at Borleske Stadium against the Bend Elks was a wild card.
The Sweets fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, rallied for four runs of their own in the first and took the lead.
Then came the explosion. After an eight-run fourth, Walla Walla led the Elks 13-5 and appeared to have the game in hand.
But shutdown relief pitching from Bend, combined with a steady drip-drip-drip of offense from the Elks bats pulled the score even in the eighth inning.
Bend utilized five runs in the sixth, two in the seventh, and the capper in the eighth.
So deep into extras the two teams played. Through the 10th and the 11th, the score remained deadlocked at 13-13.
But in the 12th, Bend went ahead for good. They scored four runs. And even though the Sweets put a run on the board in the bottom half, the script had been written.
The Sweets lost the contest 17-14. It was their eighth loss in their last nine games.
The game featured 14 total pitchers, 34 total hits, and 31 total runs. It lasted nearly four and a half hours.
The Elks hit three home runs. They got a first inning grand slam from DH Pat Flynn (Cal Poly Pomona). What’s more, Flynn left the yard again in the fourth. The second was a solo shot, giving him three taters on the year.
2B Collin Runge (Portland), a 2017 WCL All-Star, also went deep for the visitors. He belted a two-run shot in the sixth inning, his third.
3B Charlie Maxwell (Northwestern) entered the game in the seventh and finished 3-for-3 with a triple. RF Zach Clayton (Oregon State) had four hits.
For the Sweets, the monster fourth inning was capped off by a grand slam from 3B Cameron Deere (Brown). Deere’s third round-tripper sailed majestically over the deep fence in left-centerfield.
DH Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine), LF J.J. Hancock (Washington State), 1B John Glenn (Cal Baptist), and Deere all had multiple hits for the Sweets.
RHP Matt Strang (Linfield) started for the Elks and did not make it out of the first inning. But RHP Austin Ragsdale (Sacramento State) and RHP Matt Kirk (San Diego) each hurled three scoreless innings of relief.
For the Sweets, LHP Dylan Riddle (UC-Irvine) soaked up 5.1 innings. After a rocky first, Riddle was brilliant the rest of the way. RHP Kevin Calderhead (Washington State) continued to impress, this time hurling 2.1 scoreless in the late innings.
RHP Chase Thometz (Jamestown) picks up the win. He pitched the 11th and 12th. RHP Patrick Stanton (Whitman) takes the loss for the Sweets. He also pitched the 11th and 12th.
The Sweets and Elks will finish out the season series Sunday afternoon at 5:05 p.m. from Borleske Stadium. It will be the last game before the All-Star break.
LHP Isaac Esqueda (Southern California) will make his starting debut for the Sweets. He will oppose RHP James Acuna (Oregon).
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Deere's Grand Slam
Sweets Scoop Pregame -- Darius Vines
Sweets Scoop Postgame -- Nick Nyquist