August 3, 2017 - West Coast League (WCL) - Yakima Valley Pippins
LONGVIEW, Wash. - On July 10, the Cowlitz Black Bears had just used dominant pitching to take consecutive games and the series from the Yakima Valley Pippins on the road. Following a 7-5 Pippins win in their series opener on July 8, Cowlitz had allowed just three runs in the final two games of the series. As impressive as those numbers were, the pitching from Yakima Valley over the last two games has been even better. On Wednesday, just one night after shutting out the Cowlitz 1-0, the Pippins used five pitchers to stifle the Black Bears' bats yet again, while receiving far more support from the offense, en route to a 10-1 victory to take the first two games of the series and to earn a fifth straight win.
The Pippins (14-9, 27-23), who took eight innings to plate their first run of the series on Tuesday, got started early and often, as they plated a run in each of the first three frames off of Cowlitz starter, David Appleby (Santa Barbara City College). In the top of the first, Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) plated Tora Otsuka (San Diego), who had singled with one out in the frame, to give the Pippins the game's first run.
In the second inning, the Pippins added to their lead with a Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) groundout to score J.T. Strickler (Lower Columbia College), who had reached on an error to begin the frame. Leading 2-0 in the third inning, the Pippins tacked on another run when Strickler was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored Brad Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) and gave the Pippins a 3-0 edge.
After a quiet fourth, the Pippins went back to work in the fifth, as a Steve Sordahl (St. Martin's) sacrifice fly brought in Beesley, who walked to begin the frame, and stretch the lead to 4-0. In the sixth, the Pippins bats went to work again, as Chase Wells (Seattle) began the frame with a double, which as followed by a Bosetti single. With runners on second and third base and just one out, Cowlitz (13-10, 24-26), already trailing by four runs, brought the infield in, a decision that backfired immediately when Otsuka ripped a single over the head of the second baseman into right field to plate to more runs and give the Pippins a 6-0 lead. The Pippins went on to add a run in the seventh inning on a Sordahl sacrifice fly to bring home Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois), who began the frame with a double.
Trailing 7-0 in the top of the eighth, Cowlitz reliever, Kevin West (UC Riverside), could not find the strike zone to begin the frame, walking the first four batters he faced while throwing just one strike in his first 17 pitches. Otsuka ultimately came around for the first run of the frame. In all, the first six batters in the eighth walked, with three runs coming home on wild pitches to make the score 10-0.
In the ninth, Cowlitz finally plated their first run of the series on an Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) RBI single, but it was too little too late, as the Pippins took game two 10-1 to win the first two of the series.
Game Notes: Matt Driver (Yakima Valley College) started for the Pippins and threw three scoreless innings but did not factor into the decision. It was Driver's first start for Yakima Valley and his fifth appearance overall. He last appeared in a game on June 15 against Gresham when he took his only loss. Kade Woods (Spokane Falls CC) followed Driver and pitched a scoreless fourth inning to earn his fifth win and move to 5-3. The win was Woods' first since June 27, when he earned the win against Bend despite allowing four runs. Pete Minella (Western Illinois) also threw three scoreless frame for the Pippins, while Liam Herlihy (Linfield College) struck out two in his inning of work. Dustin Yates (Washington State) allowed the only Cowlitz run of the series in the bottom of the ninth. Appleby, making his first start for the Black Bears in 2017, took the loss to fall to 0-1.
With his single in the first inning, Otsuka extended his season-high hitting streak to 11 games and his on-base streak, which ranks second in the WCL, to 25. Otsuka also recorded his 14th multi-hit game this season to pass Sordahl and Dillon Plew (Washington State) for the most on the team. Ellis recorded his first three-hit game of the season and tenth multi-hit outing overall. He has also now driven in a run in six of his past seven games. With his second inning single, Bosetti extended his hitting streak to six games. With three hits, he ultimately recorded a three-hit game for the first time this season and recorded his first multi-hit contest since July 23. Beesley, who hit he go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win, has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12.
The Pippins tallied a season-high 12 walks, which also matched their single-game franchise record. They previously drew 12 walks on July 9, 2014 against Vicoria. The nine run win was the largest margin of victory for the Pippins this season. Yakima Valley clinched their third road series win overall and their second in the second half.
What It Means: With the win, the Pippins are now tied atop the WCL South second half standings with the Corvallis Knights, who have been idle the past few days as a result of their originally scheduled matchups with Wenatchee getting canceled. It is the first time all season that the Pippins have led or shared a tie of a division lead in either the first or second half of the season.
The Pippins have now won five straight games for the second time this season. They previously won five straight from June 25 to 29. Additionally, at 27-23, the Pippins are a season-high four games over .500 and, at 14-9, are a season-best five games over .500 in the second half.
With the loss, Cowlitz, who have dropped six of their last seven games, falls a game back of both Corvallis and Yakima Valley in the WCL South second half standings