Cowlitz Knocks Off Walla Walla, 7-1Posted: Updated:
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- A night like Friday is something that you can never predict in the game of baseball. Playing their first road game of the season, the Walla Walla Sweets handed the Cowlitz Black Bears a victory in the form of 10 walks and four errors. Cowlitz turned this into seven runs in the first two innings and didn't need to score again in a 7-1 victory at Story Field.
After going down 1-2-3 in their first at-bats of the game, the Sweets immediately put themselves in a hole. Derek Atkinson's infield ground ball was thrown away at first allowing him to reach second to start the game and then with Atkinson on third, an errant pickoff throw to first scored him with the first run of the game. Sweets starter Sean Santschi then loaded the bases with two walks but got out of further damage by inducing a ground out. He wouldn't escape it in the second.
The right-hander walked the first two batters of the second but a ground out and a strikeout had him an out away from a scoreless inning. He walked the next two batters, however, forcing in a run and ending his night after 1.2 innings and seven walks. Daniel Jewett came on in relief and was greeted by a two-run single up the middle by Spencer O'Neil. Billy Flamion followed right after with a two-run single of his own and the Sweets were down 6-0 just like that. Cowlitz tacked on their final run thanks to an RBI single from Cody Webster and didn't score agains the rest of the night but it didn't matter.
Black Bear starter Ian Ekery was great on the mound, giving up just one unearned run over six innings. The lefty was all around the strike zone, finishing the night with five strikeouts and only one walk. He retired the first nine batters of the game before dropping a flip from his first baseman on a ground ball. It nearly cost him but the two batters later his defense bailed him out. Alex Stanford, who reached on the error, broke for second on the pitch and slid in as Chance Kopacz hit a fly ball to center. Stanford was unsure of where the ball went and as the center fielder dove and dropped the ball, he decided to try for third knowing that only a perfect relay would get him; it was a perfect relay. Atkinson threw to Beau Didier who quickly relayed the ball to third in time to get Stanford and snuff out the Sweets rally.
Walla Walla rallied again in the fifth, loading the bases on a Goose Kallunki single, Brenton Allen walk and a Kevin Hawk single. Ekery didn't budge and helped himself, snaring a hard comebacker from Nick Gentili to start an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. The lefty gave up his only run an inning later and he let three relievers do the rest as the Sweets had just two baserunners over the final three frames.
If you subtract the first two innings, Walla Walla's pitchers actually pitched very well. After giving up three hits and walk in the second, Jewett settled down to allow just two hits and two walks over the next four innings. He struck out four for the second consecutive outing and also picked off his first baserunner of the summer. Derek Peterson was also exceptional in relief. Making his second appearance of the season, the righty from Gonzaga allowed a first-pitch single to the first batter he faced in the seventh. Battery-mate Hawk threw that runner on stealing and Peterson finished the inning with back-to-back punch-outs on the outside corner. The good stuff continued in the eighth even with a one-out triple by Braxton Miller. Peterson closed the book on his fifth scoreless inning of the summer with three more strikeouts, the last two on nasty breaking balls.
Webster was the only batter that collected multiple hits for the Black Bears with two but Miller reached base four times with three walks and Flamion reached safely three times in his first game of the summer. Four different Sweets collected the teams total of safeties.
The Sweets and Black Bears continue their three-game series on Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Walla Walla will go with Tim Culligan on the mound and the Black Bears are expected to start Jeff Gold.