Sweets Split Doubleheader Against Knights, Remain in the Thick of the Pennant Race for the First Half

Corvallis, Ore. – The Sweets split the two games against the Corvallis Knights on Sunday but ultimately took the series and now have a very real chance at winning the WCL South division for the first half. Walla Walla lost game one by a final score of 3-2 and then won game two 5-3 in 10 innings.

The Sweets jumped out to an early lead in game one after pushing across a run in the top of the first. Back-to-back doubles from Danny Sinatro and Zach Penrod scored Sinatro as the Sweets led 1-0 before the Knights even had a chance to hit.

Corvallis responded though in the bottom of the second inning as they put together an impressive two-out rally. After Sweets starter Haydn King retired the first two batters of the inning, four straight singles pushed across two runs and the Knights took the lead at 2-1.

The only other run of the game for Corvallis came off the bat of Elliot Willy in the bottom of the fourth. He started the inning with a solo homerun off King that hugged the foul pole down the left field line and was just barely fair to push the Knights lead out to 3-1.

Tyson Quolas then took over for the Sweets and had a strong showing in his outing. He finished out the game going two and a third innings pitched while not allowing any hits and striking out three.

Walla Walla tried to rally late in the top of the seventh, the final inning of the game because of the doubleheader. Jordan Hovey doubled to deep left-centerfield with one out in the inning to give the Sweets a runner in scoring position.

After a deep flyout to center, Tyler Pritchard came up with two outs and doubled to right-centerfield to score Hovey and trim the lead down to one at 3-2. With two outs and a runner in scoring position on second base, Ryan Johnston strode in and ripped a hard ground ball to the right side of the infield.f

Briley Knight made a diving stop on the ball and gathered himself in time to cut down Johnston at first which ended the Sweets rally. So the Knights took game one by a final score of 3-2 and the hopes of winning the series for Walla Walla was now in jeopardy.

Zach Penrod got the start for the Sweets in game two and he took it upon himself to give the team a chance to win the game. He allowed no runs through his first four innings on the mound as the Sweets offense gave the team a lead.

In the top of the fourth, Walla Walla tallied the first run of the game. Sinatro led off the inning getting plunked by an inside pitch to give the Sweets a leadoff man on base.

Sinatro then stole second base with one out which brought Cesar Lopez to the plate. Lopez poked a slow roller up the third base line that was a tough play for the Knights’ starting pitcher Connor Redmond.

Redmond was able to field the ball cleanly with his bare hand, but a low throw got away from the Knights first baseman. That allowed Lopez to reach safely and Sinatro to come all the way around and score from second without the ball ever leaving the infield to make it 1-0 in favor of the Sweets.

Walla Walla tacked on in the top of the fifth off the newly entered Brendan Beck for the Knights. Hovey doubled to lead off the inning. Then ground out back up the middle by Willy Chang advanced Hovey to third.

Pritchard dropped a bloop single into left-centerfield to score Hovey from third and made it 2-0. A stolen base for Pritchard put him on second base with two outs in the inning.

Then a single from Sinatro to left field got past the left fielder Elliot Willy which allowed Pritchard to score from second to make it 3-0.

Penrod ran into some trouble on the mound in the bottom of the fifth. A double and a single with one out in the inning pushed across a run and ended Penrod’s day. He finished going four and a third innings with six strikeouts and just one earned run as it was then 3-1.

Samuel Reed took over on the mound for the Sweets and he got out of the fifth without allowing another run to score. The Knights refused to go away though as they kept after Reed in the bottom of the sixth.

A double and a single again with one out pushed across another run, this time off Reed, as the Knights chipped the lead back down to one at 3-2. Then in the bottom of the seventh, the Knights made one last attempt to get back into the game, and they succeeded.

Nick Strange came on and made his first appearance in a Sweets uniform as he got the strikeout swinging to the first batter he faced. A single and a wild pitch then put a runner on second with one out. Sam Olsson then singled to left-centerfield to score the runner from second as that tied the game at 3-3.

Ben Fariss then took over on the mound for the Sweets and he shined in his second appearance on the mound for Walla Walla. He kept the Knights at bay throughout the extra frames as he went two and two thirds strong innings without allow a hit and striking out three.

The Sweets had a plethora of opportunities to win the game in both the eighth and ninth innings as they left four runners on base, including three in scoring position. Fortunately with Fariss dealing on the mound, Walla Walla once again had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 10th inning and they finally broke through.

Fariss got the inning started at the plate as he singled through the left side of the infield to leadoff. A hit-and-run was punched back to the mound by Lopez and fielded by the pitcher who only had a play at first and advanced Fariss safely to second.

Then with one out, Robby Teel peppered a line drive through the right side of the infield and scored Fariss from second to give the Sweets the lead at 4-3. Jack Filby then grounded out to the second baseman but advanced Teel into scoring position at second.

With two outs, Hovey strode to the plate and he dropped a bloop single into left field with Teel running on contact. A play at the plate went the way of the Sweets as the ball bounced away from the Knights catcher and Teel slid in safely to give Walla Walla the lead at 5-3.

Patrick Collins took over to try to close the door in the bottom of the 10th and the Knights made things interesting. After retiring the first two batters, Chandler Anderson ripped a double off the left field wall.

Cody Hawken then singled to centerfield, but Anderson was held up at third to put runners on the corners with still two outs. The next batter, Austin Feist smoked a ball deep to left field.

Johnston hustled over though, flagged the ball down and made the running grab to end the game and give the Sweets the victory by a final score of 5-3. With the win, the Sweets took the series and have now won six straight series against West Coast League opponents.

Sitting just a half game back of first place, the Sweets open up a three-game series on the road against the Bend Elks tomorrow with first pitch slated for 6:35.

By: Brandon Pavlina

Date: July 2, 2018