The Sweets squandered an early lead, losing 8-6 to Corvallis in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Goss Stadium.
The Sweets built a 4-1 lead in the third inning but watched it disappear when Knights LF Taylor Travess (Oregon) sent a bases-loaded pitch from RHP Darius Vines (Oxnard CC) over the right-field wall. It clanged off the scoreboard for a game-altering grand slam, the second the Sweets have allowed this year.
Walla Walla began constructing their lead in the first inning. Leadoff batter LF Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine) reached on an error and, after a double by 2B Vinny Capra (Richmond) pushed him to second, scored on a wild pitch.
But Corvallis struck back with a first-inning run of its own. A two-out double from DH Dillan Shrum (Nevada) preceded a Sweets fielding error.
Walla Walla went ahead once again with three runs in the third inning off of Knights starter LHP Ross Massey (Tulane). Johnston was hit by a pitch – the sixth time he’s been plunked in 16 games played. DH Nick Nyquist (Gonzaga) singled and pushed Johnston to third. Then, for the third time in the last two games, the Sweets successfully executed the double-steal, wresting the lead back from Corvallis.
A double from RF Jake Suddleson (Harvard), who leads the team with 22 RBI, plated Nyquist. A single from 1B Tommy Henderson (California) plated Suddleson. Into the fourth inning, the Sweets led 4-1.
But with one out in the fourth, Vines successively hit 1B Gabe Matthews (Oregon) and walked both CF Emilio Alcantar (Lewis-Clark State) and SS Chad Stevens (Portland).
The free passes set the stage for Travess’s bomb.
However, the Sweets did tie the game in the top of the fifth. SS Jacob Blas (Arizona) singled to lead off. Then, after a single from 3B Kevin Jordan (Loyola-Marymount) pushed Blas to third, he scored on a wild pitch.
Once again, the game was tied. This time, the score was 5-5.
But Corvallis roared for three runs in the seventh inning off of Sweets reliever RHP Jarrod Molnaa (Bellevue U).
A leadoff walk to Travess, followed by a single from 3B Elliot Willy (Oregon State) put Corvallis back in the lead. They grabbed the insurance runs on a two-run single by Matthews later in the inning.
Although the Sweets did scratch across a ninth-inning run – Capra scored on an infield single from Blas – the seventh frame proved decisive.
The Sweets dropped the series opener and Corvallis continued its second-half win streak.
The Knights are now 4-0 in the second half (21-10 overall), while the Sweets fall to 1-1 (16-13 overall).
The six-foot-eight RHP Darren Nelson (Cal Poly) relieved Massey and hurled two scoreless innings for the win (1-1). Molnaa (0-2) took the loss. RHP Dakota Donovan (Oregon State) pitched two innings for the save (1). Travess’s home run was his first of the summer.
The Sweets and Knights continue the series with the middle game Saturday night. RHP Matt Amrhein (Cal Baptist) will start for the Sweets, opposite LHP Jordan Horak (Portland).
First pitch will be 6:40 p.m. from Goss Stadium in Corvallis.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Travess Grand Slam