Sweets Win It In 9th, 2-1 Over KitsapPosted: Updated:
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- It is becoming clear that Chance Kopacz thrives when hitting in clutch situations. On Monday, he scored Zach Wentz from second with a walk-off double to the wall in left, lifting the Walla Walla Sweets to a 2-1 victory and season-series sweep of the Kitsap BlueJackets at Borleske Stadium.
Wentz started the inning for the Sweets with a sharp single to center and moved to second when Kevin Williams was hit by a pitch. That brought Kopacz to the plate and a after swinging through a first pitch fastball, he drilled a curveball over the head of the left fielder and was mobbed in between second and third.
The walk-off victory was the second of the summer for the Sweets and it brought an exciting game to an exciting conclusion. Up to the ninth it had been a pitcher's duel between Trent Allianic and Blake Golding. Each were making their second start against their opponent and they left the night even. Allianic worked out of several jams and went eight innings for the third straight start. He a ground out to leave two on in the first and gave up back-to-back singles to start the second but worked out of it.
He was helped out by a gorgeous play from catcher Kevin Hawk. Spencer Brann squared to bunt but popped it up behind home plate and Hawk was quick to react. He threw off his mask and raced back towards the on-deck circle near the Sweets dugout and dove full-out to make the catch. Allianic got a pop out and a fly out to end the inning and Kitsap would not threaten again until the fifth.
Golding also had a rough start. He lasted just five innings against the Sweets last week and it appeared he was in for the same kind of night tonight. A leadoff double from Alex Stanford started the Sweets in the first but they could not produce a run but they started the second with three consecutive singles. Kopacz started the inning with a single to left-center, Austin Heaps' single through the right-side moved him to third and Hawk scored Kopacz with a single through the left side.
After that it was all Golding. He allowed a two-out double in the third but then set down the next 16 Sweets in order. Over that span only three balls reached the outfield. Kitsap's closer Matt Cartwright came on in the ninth and made it 17 straight before the Sweets rallied for the victory.
Kitsap made their pitchers work worthwhile with a run in the fifth. Cole Norton, who entered the game 10-20 against the Sweets this summer, ripped a one-out triple to right-center and scored the tying run as Chris Murphy ripped a single inside the bag at first. Allianic would prevent further damage but found himself on the ropes in the eighth. Kopacz misplayed a Murphy bloop single into a double to start the inning and that's when Allianic went to work. He struck out the next batter on three pitches, got a ground out to short for the second out, walked the next batter and finished the inning by striking out Brennan Fulkerson on a breaking ball in the dirt.
Jimmy Litchfield came on to pitch the ninth and worked around a leadoff walk to keep the game tied and then picked up the win thanks to Kopacz's heroics. Wentz and Kopacz were the only Sweets with multiple hits while Murphy and Fulkerson each picked up a pair for Kitsap. Walla Walla has won three straight and took six games from a team for the first time in franchise history.
The Sweets continue their eight-game homestand on Tuesday when they start a two-game non-league series with the Portland Lobos.