In Kelowna, the Sweets lost their third straight game.
Falling 6-4 to the Falcons at Elks Stadium on Monday, the Sweets tragic number – the amount of combined Victoria wins and Walla Walla losses it would take to eliminate the Sweets from playoff contention – fell to just two.
Still, things looked promising at the outset. Kelowna starter RHP Brayden Price (West Texas A&M) was extremely erratic. He walked the first two batters of the game, CF Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine) and RF J.J. Hancock (Washington State), and both scored on a fielding error by 2B J.T. Williams (UC-San Diego).
The Sweets added another run in the third, growing their lead to 3-0. LF Daniel Fredrickson (Gonzaga) doubled to lead off and was promptly plated on a single by 2B Vinny Capra (Richmond).
Price, who walked six, was removed midway through the third. And when the reliever RHP Ryan Smith (Sacramento State) entered the game, he emphatically silenced Sweets bats.
Meanwhile, RHP Kevin Calderhead (Washington State), who was making his first start for Walla Walla, ran into trouble in the third. Despite skating around a slew of baserunners in the early innings, Calderhead surrendered a leadoff double to Williams, which was followed by an RBI base hit from RF Trent Tinglestad (Everett CC). Tinglestad’s hit trimmed the Sweets’ lead to 3-1.
In the fourth, Kelowna rallied for four runs to take a 5-3 lead. The Falcons sent 10 batters to the plate and plated their runs on two-RBI singles by SS Taylor Wright (Maryland) and 1B Alex McGarry (Oregon State).
Smith hurled five shutout innings of relief, carrying the game through the seventh. He then gave way to RHP Trey Evans (Big Bend CC), who worked into the ninth.
Kelowna tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning. Williams singled and scored on a double play groundout by Wright. Entering the ninth, Kelowna led 6-3.
Nevertheless, the Sweets, as always, made things interesting in the final stages. DH Jake Suddleson (Harvard) singled with one out. He moved to second when 1B John Glenn (Cal Baptist) walked behind him. Then, a base hit by Capra plated Suddleson with the Sweets’ fourth run.
But RHP Anthony Garcia (Lower Columbia CC) replaced Evans and locked the game down. He needed just one pitch to generate the final out and work the save.
Smith (2-1) won. Calderhead (1-1) lost. Garcia (2) recorded his second save.
Capra tied a season-high with four hits. RHP Patrick Stanton (Whitman) and RHP Milo Mincin (Whitman) combined to work 4.1 relief innings without surrendering an earned run.
Walla Walla drops to 8-14 (23-26 overall). Meanwhile, Kelowna, who already clinched a playoff spot by winning the first half, improved to 8-14 (25-24 overall).
With just five games remaining, the Sweets turn the ball over to LHP Haydn King (San Francisco) for Tuesday’s middle game. He will oppose All-Star RHP Cal Hehnke (Nebraska-Omaha).
First pitch will be 6:35 p.m. from Elks Stadium in Kelowna.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Fredrickson Hit & Run