The Sweets began the second half of the 2017 WCL season on a high note, beating the Yakima Valley Pippins 6-3 at Borleske Stadium on Thursday night.
It was a well-played game all around. The Sweets’ pitchers limited walks, the batters strung together base hits, and the defense played error-free ball.
The Sweets win the season series, taking two of three from the Pippins in 2017.
Walla Walla started with three runs in the first inning off of Pippins starter LHP John Fuqua (Virginia Military Institute).
LF Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine) was hit by a pitch, SS Jacob Blas (Arizona) beat out a fielder’s choice ground ball to second, and 3B Nick Nyquist (Gonzaga) reached on a converted fielder’s choice play to put runners at the corners with one out.
RF Jake Suddleson (Harvard), who leads the Sweets with 21 RBI, singled in Johnston. Then, a stunningly executed double-steal allowed Nyquist to score while Suddleson swiped second.
Suddleson was subsequently singled home by 2B Vinny Capra (Richmond).
Yakima Valley did grab a run in the second – an RBI groundout by RF Dustin Yates (Washington State) – but the Sweets were still comfortably ahead early in the ballgame.
In the third, Walla Walla padded its lead. RBI singles by Capra and DH Adam Kerner (San Diego) stretched the home team’s lead to 5-1.
From that point on, single runs in the fifth and sixth inning were all the Pippins would get.
In the fifth, a ground ball from 2B Brad Beesley (Cal Poly) plated LF Jonny DeLuca (Oregon). And in the sixth, SS Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) scored on a groundout from CF Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s).
The Sweets capped the game off with a run in the eighth on another double-steal. This time, CF Danny Sinatro (Washington State) scored and Blas reached second on the back end.
In addition to its superb defense, Walla Walla mustered a season-high seven stolen bases as a team.
Nyquist led the way with three. He now leads the team with nine on the season. Blas, Suddleson, Capra, and Sinatro chipped in the other four steals.
Sweets starter LHP Tim Josten (Cal State Fullerton), who was celebrating his 18th birthday, dominated as usual. He allowed just two runs on six hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Amazingly, this was Josten’s worst outing of the season. And if two runs in five innings is as bad as it gets, the future is incredibly bright for the future Titan.
Behind Josten, LHP Scott Parker (San Francisco) turned in another sensational outing in long relief. Parker allowed one run on two hits in three innings, striking out five.
LHP Dylan Riddle (UC-Irvine) earned his first save of the summer. The Sweets have 11 saves, spread between 10 different pitchers. Only RHP Darius Vines (Oxnard CC) has two.
Josten improves to 4-0 on the year. Fuqua loses and falls to 0-2.
The Sweets are now 1-0 in the first half, 16-12 overall. Yakima Valley wraps up their first half one game under .500 at 13-14.
All 11 teams in the WCL are now into the second half of their season.
The Sweets will head west for a five-game road trip. The team will be in Corvallis Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday late afternoon before heading to Gresham for games Monday and Tuesday nights.
RHP Matt Amrhein (Cal Baptist) will take the ball Friday night. He will oppose LHP Ross Massey (Tulane).
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Capra's first-inning RBI
Sweets Scoop -- Scott Parker