The Walla Walla Sweets completed the series sweep of the Corvallis Knights on Thursday at Borleske Stadium with a 5-3 West Coast League win.
Ben Johnson got the start for the Sweets in this one, and had it going right away on the bump, forcing a three-up,-three-down first inning.
“What I liked the most from the team was the pitchers went after the hitters, pitched to contact,” said Sweets manager Frank Mutz. “The first game (an 8-2 win), we walked about eight guys, cut it down to three last night (in a 6-3 victory) and none today, so I think that was the key for our pitching.
“We pitched to contact and played great defense.”
Patrick Caulfield then scored the first run of the day for the Sweets in the bottom half of the first when he worked a leadoff walk, stole second base with one down, and took third on a balk before Parker Price brought him in on a groundout to second that gave the Sweets a 1-0 lead.
The Knights got that run back in the top half of the second when Nick Yovetich scored Trace Tammaro on a sacrifice fly to center field to tie up the game.
The Sweets would turn around in the bottom of the inning and put up two more runs.
The first came on a Tristan King double that scored Brandon Wagstaff, and the second was on a sacrifice fly from Carson Green to score James Le Bioda for a 3-1 lead.
Yovetich then had an inside-the-park home run for the Knights that brought the score to 3-2 in the top of the fourth, but the Sweets never flinched as they came back in the bottom half of the inning with a run of their own.
Patrick Caulfield smacked his first hit of the game, scoring Le Bioda on an RBI single to make it a 4-2 game.
The Sweets played steady defense and pitching from then on, keeping the Knights scoreless in innings five through eight.
Walla Walla added an insurance run in the sixth with another RBI single from Caulfield that again scored Le Bioda.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the final frame, the Knights continued to battle and went on a short rally that included back-to-back doubles from Jake Holcroft and James Andrerson.
Holcroft scored on Anderson’s double with no outs, but after that, Sweets pitcher Wyatt Boone settled in and got the next three batters out to secure the save and the win for the Sweets.
“Whenever they scored a run, we came back and scored one or two, so we just kept plugging away, pushing and grinding it out, and I think that was the key to it,” Mutz said.
“We had two two-out base hits today with runners in scoring position,” he said. “We scored two runs with two outs, and that was a big combination to why we won.
“Today, from about the sixth inning on, we started swinging at balls out of the strike zone, and that’s just not us,” Mutz said. “We were getting our pitches early on in the series. We scored eight, then we scored six.
“Today, we started off real well, and I’m looking forward to working with guys and teaching them how to come up with a plan to hit. Our hitting coach, Larry Price, is going to be spending a lot of time with those guys talking about what their plan is, because they have been swinging at a lot of stuff out of the zone.”
The Sweets host another three-game series this weekend as they take on the Bend Elks, the first game tonight starting at 7:05 p.m. today at Borleske Stadium.
Sweets 5, Knights 3
Jostens, Caviglia (6), Gerber (9) and Lund. Johnson, Dahle (3), Kokodynski (6), Boone (9) and King.
HR — Cor: Yovetich.
Hits — Cor: Tammaro, Holcroft 2, Lund, Anderson 2, Yovetich. WW: Caulfield 2, Cesar, Folz 2, Le Bioda 2, King, Green.