Thursday night was absolutely brimming with offense at Borleske Stadium.
The game lasted more than three and a half hours. The Sweets and the Gresham GreyWolves combined for 34 hits. The two teams used 10 pitchers between them. And the Sweets came back from a 5-0 third inning deficit to win the game 9-6.
Cameron Deere’s (Brown) pinch-hit three-run homer in the eighth put the team over the top.
But for most of the night, it looked as if the Sweets were on their way to another exasperating loss. On Wednesday, the team earned eight hits and drew nine walks, but scored just four runs and left 10 runners on base.
Through the first few innings, tonight appeared to be more of the same.
Gresham jumped out to a big lead on the strength of a five-run third. Facing Sweets starter RHP Jarrod Molnaa (Bellevue U) and reliever RHP Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine), Gresham utilized six consecutive base hits to earn a sizeable early lead.
The Sweets cut right into the deficit, though. Teeing off against ‘Wolves starter RHP Andrew Hansen (St. Mary’s), Walla Walla scored two in the bottom of the third. LF Garrett Mitchell (UCLA) walked, RF J.J. Hancock (Washington State) doubled Mitchell in, and 3B Nick Nyquist (Gonzaga) plated Hancock with an RBI single.
But Walla Walla coughed up another run in the top of the fifth. 3B Ross Puskarich (San Francisco) singled off of Johnston, and after moving to third on a single by 1B Drew Curtis (Southern Illinois), Puskarich scored on an RBI single from Jackson Overlund (Utah Valley).
Now holding a three-run lead, Gresham’s first reliever, LHP Brad Danzeisen (Dixie State) could not preserve the insurance run. He let up a two scores in the fift. After Nyquist scored on a balk, a single from SS Jacob Blas (Arizona) plated 1B John Glenn (Cal Baptist) who had rapped into a fielder’s choice.
Following the play, Sweets manager Frank Mutz – arguing that the runner, RF Jake Suddleson (Harvard) was safe at second – was ejected for the second time in a week.
Despite the hullabaloo, Gresham headed into the late innings, the still holding a 6-4 lead.
In the seventh, the Sweets tied the game against Danzeisen. With one on (a single by Glenn) and two out, CF Danny Sinatro (Washington State) reached safely on a dropped strike three.
The play proved to be pivotal. After Blas walked to load the bases, 2B Kevin Jordan, who was 3-for-4 on the evening, plated both Glenn and Sinatro on a hard single to right field.
Suddenly, the game was tied. The Sweets had come all the way back.
Deere wreaked his havoc in the eighth inning. Taking cuts against RHP Gavin Baker (Columbia Basin CC), Nyquist doubled to lead off. Then, a Suddleson walk set the stage for the blast.
Deere pinch-hit for Glenn in a platoon switch against the lefty Baker.
Cameron worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off the first payoff pitch. Then, Baker missed his location badly and left a hittable pitch belt-high for Deere, who proceeded to belt it over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field and deep into the trees behind.
The Sweets led 9-6. The margin would hold up as the game’s final score.
After Johnston departed in the fifth, the Sweets received 4.2 innings of shutout relief from four different bullpenners. LHP Tim Josten (Cal State Fullerton), RHP Darius Vines (Oxnard CC), RHP Matt Amrhein (Cal Baptist) and Esqueda kept the ‘Wolves at bay while the bats put Walla Walla over the top.
A number of sterling defensive plays, particularly from C Adam Kerner (San Diego) helped LHP Isaac Esqueda (Southern California) to two shutout innings and the win.
In the game, the Sweets struck for a season-high 18 hits. Eight members of the starting lineup recorded base hits. Nyquist had his first four-hit game of the season. Hancock and Jordan had three hits each and Blas had two.
Esqueda is now 2-0 on the season. Baker falls to 0-1. It was Deere’s second home run.
The Sweets improve their record to 12-9 with six games remaining in the first half, all against Bellingham. They currently trail first-place Kelowna by 1.5 games and are even in the loss column.
Gresham’s first half is over. They finish at 10-17.
Tomorrow night, the Sweets begin a three game road series in Bellingham against the Bells. The team will send RHP Chris Lincoln (UC-Santa Barbara), Josten, and Vines to the mound to start the three games.
Tomorrow night’s action begins at 6:35 p.m. from Joe Martin Field in Bellingham.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Deere's Home Run
Sweets Scoop Pregame -- Jarrod Molnaa
Sweets Scoop Postgame -- Cameron Deere