BELLINGHAM, Wash. – J.J. Robinson's two-run double off the top of the right field wall capped a four-run rally in the seventh inning and the Sweets hung for a 7-6 victory on Wednesday night at Joe Martin Field.
The come-from-behind victory gives the Sweets (23-30) a chance to earn a split of the season series with the Bells (32-21) on Thursday night in the season finale.
Walla Walla trailed 6-3 entering the top of the seventh inning but a Kalani Brackenridge leadoff single sparked a four-run rally. Reliever Jacob Coats then walked the next three hitters, including Brett Jacobs to make the score 6-4. Coats then uncorked a wild pitch and Kris Paulino scampered home from third, avoiding the tag at home to make it 6-5. John Albert was then summoned and hit Spencer O'Neil to reload the bases. After a strikeout, Albert left a pitch over the plate and Robinson just missed hitting a grand slam as his high fly to right hit the very top of the wall. It did, however, drive in two runs and give the Sweets a 7-6 lead.
The Sweets bullpen did the rest as Luke West, Simon Anderson and Arturo Reyes combined to close the door. West pitched a perfect seventh, Anderson pitched a perfect eighth and Reyes earned his first save as he left runners on first and second by inducing a fielder's choice to end the game.
Wednesday's game started out well for the Sweets as they built a 3-0 lead after 3 ½ innings. Alex Bonczyk and Jacobs singled with one out in the first and Beau Fraser scored Bonczyk with a single to left to make it 1-0. Batting seventh in the order, Ben Ruff led off the second inning with a missile over the right field wall for an opposite field home run. It was his second of the summer, with both leading off the second. Walla Walla pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fourth as Kalani Brackenridge scored Robinson with a fly ball to left-center.
Bellingham found its groove in the very next half inning, however, and took its first lead. A walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases with no outs and Michael Leach's fielder's choice made it 3-1 and put runners on the corners. Jonny Locher followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 3-2 and Johnny Farrington tied it with a bloop single to left. Des Santos followed that with a double down the left field line to break the tie but the Sweets escaped further damage as Jacobs relayed the ball to Ruff who fired home just in time to get Farrington trying to score.
The Bells then tacked on a pair of runs over the next two innings. Grant Fink followed a leadoff walk with an RBI triple off the base the center field wall in the fifth against Zach Brandon and Andrew Ely smacked a two-out double to left off of Doug Ashby to make it 6-3 in the sixth.
Pitching in his final game with the Sweets this summer, Ashby earned his first win of the year. Joe Arlt started and lasted four innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. O'Neil, Robinson and Brackenridge all had two hits for the Sweets. By scoring on the wild pitch in the seventh, Paulino set a Sweets record with his 26th run scored.
The Sweets wrap up their 2012 season on Thursday as they face the Bells at 7:05 p.m. Hunter Virant will start in the final game of the season.