Big 1st Inning Propels Walla Walla to 7-1 Win Over CowlitzPosted: Updated:
Walla Walla, Wash. -- So close for so long, the Walla Walla Sweets took the first step towards coming together on Friday night, scoring four runs on four hits in the first, collecting five extra-base hits and defeating the Cowlitz Black Bears 7-1 at Borleske Stadium.
Down 1-0 entering their first at-bats for the fourth straight game, the Sweets responded with one of their best first innings of the summer. Andrew Mendenhall, his home run tied things at 1-1 on Thursday, tripled off the left field wall with one out in the first to start the rally. Chance Kopacz followed with the first of his four hits to score Mendenhall and tie the game. Cowlitz starter Stuart Fewel hit Elliot Stewart and Austin Heaps followed with an RBI double down the left field line to make it 2-1. Kevin Williams, snake bitten a bit on Thursday, followed and drilled an 0-1 pitch to the wall in right-center and dove head first into third with a two-run triple.
The 4-1 lead inspired Sweets starter Daniel Jewett and the left-hander made the lead stand up. He had given up two hits and a run in the first but settled down to give the Sweets a quality start. He set down the side in order in the second, worked around a leadoff walk in the third, struck out two in a 1-2-3 fourth and left the bases loaded in the fifth with a strikeout of Kyle Garlick. He closed his outing with a scoreless sixth thanks to a tumbling catch by left fielder Nick Gentili. Jewett allowed one run (unearned) on four hits and struck out six, earning his first win of the summer.
Meanwhile, the Sweets continue to cross the plate against Fewel. Coming off a complete game three-hit shutout in his last start, the right-hander from Lower Columbia was touched for another run in the second. Gentili chopped a ball off of home plate for an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on Mendenhall's slow-rolling single to the right of the mound. He rebounded to get a 1-2-3 third but left as Heaps led off the fifth with his second double of the game. He eventually scored the sixth Sweets run after two infield errors kept the inning alive.
James Campbell scored Williams with a double to left-center in the seventh to cap the Sweets scoring and the bullpen did the rest. Doug Christie took over for Jewett in the seventh and worked two scoreless innings, ending his night with back-to-back strikeouts of Cowlitz's 4-5 hitters. Simon Anderson pitched the ninth and after giving up back-to-back singles to start the inning, rebounded to strike out the next batter and induce two infield pop ups to end the game.
Cowlitz scored their only run of the game thanks to two hits and an error in the first. Brent Graham started the game with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt. Kyle Garlick singled with one out and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. With two outs, Matt Giller's ground ball to short went off of Williams' glove and bounced back towards the pitching mound. Graham scored easily from third but Garlick tried to score as well but Jewett reacted quickly and threw home to get him in a rundown and Campbell eventually tagged him out to end the inning.
Kopacz's first three hits all came on the first pitch of his at-bat and he capped his strong return to the lineup with an opposite field single in his last at-bat. Mendenhall, Heaps and Williams all had two hits with Heaps scoring two and Williams driving in two. Last place in the league in stolen bases, the Sweets stole two on the night.
Walla Walla and Cowlitz complete their three-game series on Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. It is Armed Forces Night at Borleske Stadium sponsored by Washington Army National Guard and their will be a postgame fireworks display. Derek Peterson will get the start against Cowlitz's Jeff Gold.