PORTLAND — The Walla Walla Sweets’ Darius Vines, more often a pitcher, came off the bench to run for Josh Prizina after his one-out, bases-empty double in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 1-1.
Portland reliever Colby Wyatt, having worked a 2-2 count on Jack Filby, then tried to pick off Vines.
But the throw to second base went into center field, Vines raced all the way around to score, and a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth by Walla Walla reliever Sean Sullivan gave the Sweets a 2-1 win to even their West Coast League baseball series here on Wednesday.
The Sweets’ victory — improving their record to 18-14 overall, 3-2 in the second half of the season — lifted them into a tie with Corvallis atop the South Division second-half standings, as Yakima Valley handed the Knights a 13-6 loss at Yakima County Stadium on Wednesday.
Vines is slated to start on the mound for Walla Walla in the series finale here tonight, starting at 7:05 p.m., with the sides even. Portland took the opener, 10-7, on Tuesday. The Sweets came back with their win on Wednesday.
Sullivan’s save followed in suit great pitching performances from starter Hayden King before lefty middle relievers Brayde Hirai and Samuel Reed. Together the four limited Portland to one run on six hits while chalking up 16 strikeouts against two walks.
The Pickles jumped ahead in the bottom of the first inning, on a two-out run-scoring double by cleanup hitter Jack Murphy, but Walla Walla pitchers shut them out the rest of the night.
Walla Walla tied things up in the top of the third inning, when Cesar Lopez took a 3-2 pitch outside the strikezone with the bases loaded and two down to force home a run in Ryan Johnston.
The rally started with Johnston and Danny Sinatro singling on back-to-back pitches before Ben Farris was hit by a 3-2 pitch with two down.
When Prizina doubled with one down in the top of the ninth inning, he became the first Sweet to get on since Farris singled with two outs back in the fifth.
Sweets 2, Pickles 1
King, Hirai (6), Reed (8), Sullivan (9) and Prizina, Elser (9). McVay, Copeland (5), Treadwell (8), Wyatt (9) and Cardenas, Edson (8).
HR — none.
Hits — Walla Walla: Johnston, Sinatro, Farris, Hovey, Prizina. Portland: Barnum 2, Skoro 2, Diaz, Murphy.