The Sweets took the field on Thursday determined not to lose a second time in a row. And after a slogfest that lasted nearly four hours, they indeed emerged victorious.
In the final non-league game of the season, the Walla Walla toppled the Highline Bears 11-8 at Borleske Stadium.
The Sweets grabbed an early lead in the second inning when a two-out hit by SS Jacob Blas (Arizona) plated 2B Vinny Capra (Richmond) who had singled to lead off.
But in the third, Highline roared back. Four runs, all scored with two out, staked the Bears to a 4-1 lead.
The Sweets rallied for four scores of their own in the bottom half. DH Daniel Fredrickson (Gonzaga) and C Joe Zimmer (Whitman) provided the run-scoring hits.
Each team plated three more in the fourth inning. After an improbable stretch – both teams scored exactly four runs in the third inning and three runs in the fourth inning – Walla Walla led 8-7.
The Sweets pushed across an insurance run in the sixth. A two-out double from LF Danny Sinatro (Washington State) scored 3B Cameron Deere (Brown) who was hit by a pitch.
Two unearned runs in the eighth made the Sweets lead insurmountable. Even though Highline bounced back with a run in the top of the ninth, the Sweets had built an advantage that was too big to fail.
RHP Anthony Villegas (Biola U) was outstanding in long relief. The incoming freshman pitched his best game as a Sweet, tossing the final six innings and scattering just four hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out four.
Villegas earned the win. Bears starter RHP Colin Brown (Lower Columbia CC) took the loss.
The Sweets bump their record to 25-24 overall on the season. The team is 22-23 in West Coast League play. They won three of four non-league games in 2017.
Next, the Sweets take to the road for a six-game swing: three in Wenatchee against the AppleSox and three in Kelowna against the Falcons. The regular season then concludes next weekend, August 4-6, with three in Walla Walla against Kelowna.
First pitch on Friday night will be 7:05 p.m. from Paul Thomas Field in Wenatchee. RHP Darius Vines (Yavapai CC) will be on the bump for Walla Walla.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Blas RBI Single
Sweets Scoop -- Joe Zimmer