The Sweets were suddenly in danger of losing their sixth consecutive ballgame.
After grabbing an early lead, it appeared the team might coast to a win at home on Wednesday night. But a stunning four-run rally by the Lefties in the top of the eighth yanked the lead away from Walla Walla and threw the game into doubt.
But in the first game of this two game series, the middle of the Sweets’ order carried big sticks. A two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth – three immediate base hits in quick succession – put the Sweets back ahead and secured victory.
The Sweets topped the Port Angeles Lefties 6-5 at Borleske Stadium on Wednesday night.
Port Angeles took an early lead, scoring in the top of the first against Sweets starter RHP Chris Lincoln (UC Santa Barbara). 3B Sean Roby (Arizona Western) singled with two out and was plated on a double from RF Ian Nowak (UC - Riverside).
But the Sweets right answered back with two of their own. DH Jake Suddleson (Harvard) launched his team-leading sixth home run – a two-run shot – off of Lefties starter RHP Cam Walker (Western Oregon). With SS Vinny Capra (Richmond) on base, Suddleson pounced on a hanging curveball and sent it whistling over the high fence in left-centerfield.
Walla Walla tacked on another run in the third when Capra, who had doubled, scored on a Suddleson sac fly.
For good measure, the team struck again in the fifth – A beautifully executed suicide squeeze by Capra scored CF Ryan Johnston (UC – Irvine) from third base.
Meanwhile, Lincoln was smooth and efficient. Turning in one of the finest performances from a Sweets starter all year, Lincoln tossed five innings of one-run baseball. He allowed just three hits, walked none, and struck out seven.
But things got dicey once Lincoln was out of the game. After two phenomenal innings of long relief from LHP Scott Parker (San Francisco), Port Angeles broke through in the eighth.
Facing Parker, Port Angeles loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. With the bags full, RHP Milo Mincin (Whitman) was summoned from the ‘pen. He struck out DH Nick Bellafronto (Stanford) on a high tailing fastball before issuing a free pass to LF Marten Pauwels (Lewis-Clark State) and forcing in a run.
Back to the bullpen went Sweets manager Frank Mutz, this time summoning LHP Dylan Riddle (UC – Irvine) in a platoon switch. The first batter to face Riddle was SS Kevin Kendall (UCLA), who laced a bases-clearing double into the left-centerfield gap.
Shockingly, the Lefties had pulled ahead. The Sweets needed a run in the eighth inning to tie.
But instead, they scored twice, wresting the lead back for good. Facing RHP Trayson Kubo (Stephen F. Austin), the Sweets went ahead on three straight base hits.
RF J.J. Hancock (Washington State) dropped down a bunt single to lead off. Behind him, an RBI double from Suddleson tied the game and boosted Jake’s team-high RBI count to 29.
Suddleson was removed for a pinch runner. Danny Sinatro (Washington State), in to run at second base, scored two pitches later when 1B John Glenn (Cal Baptist) bounced a chopper up the middle and through into centerfield.
With the exhilarating win, the Sweets improve their record in the second half to 2-5 (17-17 overall). Port Angeles, meanwhile, falls to 3-6 (13-23 overall).
Riddle (2-0) won. Kubo (1-3 loss). Johnston carried the ninth inning, earning his first save.
Suddleson’s homer was his sixth, which ranks fourth in the WCL.
Thursday night, the Sweets go for the sweep. They will send LHP Tim Josten (Cal State Fullerton), who has been their best pitcher, to the mound for the start. He will be opposed by RHP Kieran Shaw (Harvard).
First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. from Borleske.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Suddleson's eighth inning double
Sweets Scoop Pregame -- Daniel Fredrickson
Sweets Scoop Postgame -- Ryan Shaw