Watson Throws Complete Game, Sweets Win 5-1 Over CowlitzPosted: Updated:
LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Staked to a 5-0 lead after four innings, Brett Watson did the rest, throwing a complete game to lead the Walla Walla Sweets to a 5-1 victory over the Cowlitz Black Bears on Saturday at Story Field.
Walla Walla got Watson two quick runs in the first and the left-hander made them stand up. He walked the leadoff batter but after a fielder's choice, picked off the runner at first before getting a ground out to end the inning. Watson went on to face the minimum over the first four innings thanks to a gorgeous 6-3 double play turn by Alex Stanford in the second and back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth. He hit his only rough water in the fifth as Billy Flamion's two-out double to right-center scored the Black Bears first run but by that point it was already 5-0 Sweets. He finished the inning with a strikeout and allowed just three hits the rest of the way to pick up his third win.
After a night in which they collected just three hits, all from the same player, and were shutout, the Sweets brought a much different mentality to the plate against Cowlitz starter Kevin Bosson. Struggling to hit with two outs for much of the season, Walla Walla did all their damage with two-men down tonight. In the first with the bases clear and two outs, Andrew Mendenhall's ground ball to third was bobbled for an error, Zach Wentz walked and Austin Heaps lined a run-scoring single into right field to give the Sweets the lead. Two pitches later, Wentz crossed home as Bosson's breaking ball scooted to the backstop.
Bosson settled after that, allowing just a single hit over the next two innings and had two outs in the fourth thanks to a double play turn by his middle infield. That's when things unraveled. Brenton Allen drew a four-pitch walk, Scott Gottschling picked up an infield single and Stanford made it 3-0 with a single into left field. A walk to Denver Chavez loaded the bases and Mendenhall, down 0-2 in the count, ripped a two-run double down the left field line to make it 5-0.
Those five would be enough for the Sweets. Kody Watts came on in the fifth and proceded to pitch five scoreless innings in his first appearance of the summer for Cowlitz. He did not allow a hit and struck out three. His performance allowed the Black Bears to rally in the ninth off of Watson. After two quick outs, Greg Velazquez picked up his third hit with an infield single and Mike Bush walked to put two on for Kevin Schwartz. Trying to load the bases, Schwartz laid down a bunt but Watson was quick off the mound and his bullet to first was just in time to nab Schwartz and end the game.
The final play off the mound was just one of several beautiful plays that Watson made on the night. He jumped to snag a comebacker from Spencer O'Neil in the fourth, he collected a Velazquez hot smash in the seventh and fielded Kirk Cunningham's chopper flawlessly in the eighth. Watson now sports a 1.62 ERA, fourth-best in the West Coast League. Mendenhall was the only Sweet to have multiple hits and Stanford's single gave him 60 hits on the summer. His .337 batting average is four points below Breland Almadova's league-leading .341. Velazquez had three of Cowlitz's five hits.
Walla Walla's victory was their third over Cowlitz this summer and it is the third time they have won the middle game of the three-game series. It also pushed them three games ahead of Bellingham, an 8-3 loser to Wenatchee, in the East Division standings. The magic number is now two and the Sweets can clinch their first playoff spot in team history with a win and a Bellingham loss on Sunday.