The Sweets concluded the first half of the 2017 WCL season with a 6-1 loss to the Bellingham Bells on Wednesday night at Borleske Stadium.
Though Walla Walla out-hit Bellingham 9-8, Sweets pitchers walked seven Bells hitters.
Walla Walla concludes the first half with a 15-12 mark, tied with Wenatchee for third place in the WCL North. It’s the same record they had at the halfway mark last season.
Bellingham got on the board immediately. 2B Reagan Teegarden (Central Arizona) worked a leadoff walk against Sweets starter RHP Chris Lincoln (UC Santa Barbara). Teegarden came in to score on a two-out double from C Chase Illig (West Virginia).
Bellingham struck for two more in the fifth. Three straight singles – from LF Dean Lawson (Northern Colorado), 3B Austin Shenton (Florida International), and Illig – set up a two-run base knock from CF Max Flower (California), who tortured the Sweets all week long. In five games against Walla Walla this season, Flower collected seven hits, including an astounding three home runs.
Bellingham doubled their lead with three more runs in the sixth inning against the Sweets bullpen. Three consecutive walks – RF Colin Ridley (Maine), DH Ryan Mendoza (Long Beach State), and SS Brendan McClary (Gonzaga) – loaded the bases with none out.
Ridley proceeded to score on a wild pitch and a two-run single from Lawson brought home the latter two.
The Sweets did avoid a shutout, however, plating their lone run in the bottom of the seventh inning. SS Jacob Blas (Arizona) doubled off of Bells reliever LHP Tanner West (Arizona State). A wild pitch pushed Blas to third and an RBI groundout from CF Danny Sinatro (Washington State) brought him in to score.
But dominant innings from a pair of Bells relievers – LHP Arman Sabouri (California) and RHP Josh Zavisubin (Puget Sound) – slammed the door on the Sweets.
One positive was the work from the back end of the Sweets bullpen. RHP Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine) entered with one out in the sixth and hurled 2.2 innings of two-hit shutout baseball. He struck out five, and at one point, Johnston K’d three straight Bells hitters.
Behind him, RHP Milo Mincin (Whitman) was as dominant as he’s looked all year. Mincin tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning, punctuating it by striking out Flower on a tailing fastball up and away.
Bellingham and Walla Walla split the six-game season series. Each team won two of three on the road in the home-and-away double series.
Bells starter RHP Jimmy Boyce (Edmonds CC) went five shutout innings for the win (3-1). Hitting spots and changing speeds all night long, Boyce allowed five hits and a walk while striking out four.
Lincoln (0-1) took the loss.
The Sweets begin their second half Thursday night with a single game at home against the Yakima Valley Pippins.
RHP Matt Amrhein (Cal Baptist) will start for Walla Walla. He will be opposed by LHP John Fuqua (Virginia Military), who previously started against the Sweets on June 20th.
After that, the Sweets hit the road for a five-game swing through Corvallis and Gresham.
First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. from Borleske Stadium.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Tommy Henderson running catch in LF
Sweets Scoop -- Kyle Wilkerson