Borleske Stadium will be on fire Tuesday — and it will have zero to do with the blazing sun — as the Walla Walla Sweets take on the Corvallis Knights in the first round of the West Coast League playoffs.
The Sweets, celebrating their 10th season of existence, are in the post season for the first time since 2013.
Sweets fans — particularly the loud, animated and costume-wearing crew who sit along the third-base side — have been anticipating a trip of the playoffs for weeks.
The Sweets started out the season with an incredible 10-game win streak (best in franchise history) to open the season. The team was in contention to win the firs-half title, and a playoff spot, but was edged out by the Knights.
But he playoff drought ended on Wednesday night when the Sweets clinched one of four playoff berths. The Sweets knocked off the Kelowna Falcons in the last regular season home game of the year while the Knights beat the Bellingham Bells. The win for Corvallis, the three-time defending league champs, gave it the top spot in the South Division in both halves of the season. Meanwhile, the Sweets boast the second-best record in that division and thus qualify for the playoffs, which start with a best-of-three series on Tuesday in Walla Walla.
If the Sweets can win two games over the Knights, they would take on the North Division winner in a series that would start next weekend. Winning the series will be a challenge, and the Sweets players and coaches understand that. The games between Walla Walla and Corvallis have been battles.
Manager Frank Mutz, in a post-game interview Wednesday with U-B sports writer Darnell Handcox, said the team has been aggressive on the mound and working to avoid walks.
“(Our pitchers) struck out 15 tonight,” Mutz said. “They just attacked, attacked and attacked, and I’m really pleased.
“We talked before the game. We’ve got to cut the walks down. We had four walks, but 15 strikeouts, so they were around the plate.”
Mutz and his players know they will have to be sharp on the mound, at the plate and in the field to beat the reigning champs.
The journey starts Tuesday at Borleske.
Fill the stadium and cheer on the Sweets as they make a run for their first league championship.