Longview, Wash. – For the second time in three games, the Sweets offense fell silent against the Black Bears. Walla Walla dropped the season finale to Cowlitz by the final score of 3-0 at Story Field on Wednesday night.
Michael Peterson got the start for the Sweets and ran into some trouble in the bottom of the first inning. A walk, a single and an error loaded the bases with two outs.
Then a weakly hit fly ball into right field looked as though it was going to drop in to score multiple runs. Instead, Cesar Lopez laid out and made a miraculous diving catch to end the inning which kept the Black Bears off the scoreboard.
Cowlitz finally broke through though in the bottom of the third. A single through the left side of the infield put a runner on first with two outs in the frame.
Andrew Walling then laced a ball into the left-centerfield gap that got out to the wall for an RBI double to give Cowlitz the lead at 1-0.
The only other offense in the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning. With Peterson still on the mound, back-to-back walks to start the frame put runners on first and second with nobody out.
A questionable balk to the next batter then moved both runners into scoring position at second and third. After a flyout, the infield was drawn in with two strikes on the batter Jonathan Hodo.
He then flipped a base hit just over the head of Jack Filby at shortstop for an RBI single to make it 2-0. That brought Brayde Hirai to the mound for Walla Walla as he inherited a one out, runners on the corners situation.
On an 0-1 count, a ball in the dirt was blocked down by Josh Prizina behind the plate. The runner from third took an aggressive jump on the low pitch, and Prizina came up throwing to third.
He ended up launching the throw into left field which allowed the runner from third to score easily to make it 3-0. It was nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard for the remainder of the way for both teams.
Hirai finished his outing on the mound tossing three and two-thirds innings with just three hits allowed in addition to three strikeouts. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the game for Walla Walla was the fact that Ryan Johnston played all nine defensive positions throughout the course of the game.
He saw limited action in positions outside his usual left field spot. He did flag down a fly ball in right field, and then he had to make an impressive stretch at first base to reel in a wide throw.
Johnston even looked sharp behind the plate in the bottom of the seventh with some good pitch frames in addition to holding on for a strikeout to end the inning. He then finished his evening out on the mound as he tossed a scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth on just one hit to go along with one strikeout.
The offense for the Sweets just failed to put together any consistency throughout the course of the game as the Black Bears pitching staff kept hitters off base all game long. Walla Walla only mustered three total baserunners throughout the course of the game on two hits and one walk.
Marty Maves got the ball in the top of the ninth for Cowlitz, and he closed the books on the game. He did allow one hit but struck out the other three batters he faced to earn the save and seal the victory for Cowlitz by the final score of 3-0.
The Sweets had a fun and entertaining campaign throughout the 2018 season. They finished with an overall record of 28-26 which included going 9-0 in WCL series at home at Borleske Stadium.
Walla Walla will return for the tenth season of Sweets baseball in 2019!