Walla Walla Falters in 9thPosted: Updated:
Corvallis-- For eight innings the Walla Walla Sweets did everything they could to win on Saturday night. But for one inning, the ninth, they did everything they could to lose, blowing a 3-2 lead by walking four and allowing a walk-off single to the Corvallis Knights at Goss Stadium.
Clinging to their third one-run lead of the game, the Sweets went to Sean Santschi to start the ninth. The right-hander walked the first two batters he faced and was replaced by left-hander Jimmy Litchfield. He walked the first two batters he faced, the second forcing in the tying run and then David Armendariz knocked the game-winning single up the middle.
Take away the last inning and the Sweets played one of their best games of the summer. They did not make a defensive error, through out two runners from the outfield and hit two home runs. Nick Gentili gunned down Trent Oleszczuk in the first as he tried to stretch a single down the left field line into a double and Andrew Mendenhall erased Oleszczuk in the seventh trying to go first-to-third.
Walla Walla had the lead in the ninth thanks to an Elliot Stewart home run. The catcher from Cal Poly led off the eighth inning by crushing a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for his third home run of the year. Daniel Jewett made it stand up in the eighth by working around a leadoff single, finally getting a pop out to short to end the inning.
The Sweets had two other leads during the game as well. Austin Heaps and Gentili were hit by a pitch back-to-back with one out in the second and Denver Chavez singled to center to load the bases. The second pitch of Kevin Williams' at-bat got away from the catcher and allowed Heaps to score from third. Corvallis rallied to tie it in third on a Corey Davis bunt single but the Sweets retook the lead in the fifth thanks to Mendenhall. Starting in center, and playing on the field of his college's rival, Mendenhall drilled a hanging curve ball over the wall in left-center with one out in the fifth.
Corvallis quickly rallied, loading the bases with no outs in their half of the fifth. Walla Walla starter Tyler Billen boar down and allowed just a sac fly in the inning. The left-hander, transferring to Southwest Oklahoma St. in the fall, went five innings and gave up two runs on six hits. Doug Christie followed Billen and pitched two scoreless innings in his first appearance this summer. He worked out of a two-out jam in the sixth and was aided by Mendenhall's throw in the seventh.
Walla Walla collected nine hits on the night, two each from Mendenhall, Stewart, Zach Wentz and Chavez. Corvallis topped them with 11 hits, three from Alex Foulon (two runs) and two apiece from Oleszczuk and Armendariz. Jace Fry started and went four innings, allowing one run on four hits. Kyle McNutt and Nick Hoover combined to allow a run on three hits over three innings of relief and Mark Trentacosta, who was in line for the loss after giving up the Stewart home run, earned the win.
The Sweets had a similar slide at the same time last year as well. They lost eight straight from June 20 through June 27. Walla Walla has now lost six straight and heads to Kelowna, BC for a three-game series with the Falcons starting on Sunday. Kelowna has struggled as well, going just 3-15 to start the season and mired in a six-game losing streak. Game time for Sunday's first game is 6:05 p.m. and the Sweets will go with right-hander Ryan Richardson.