When in first place, you are suppose to beat the teams below you in the standings.
The Walla Walla Sweets took care of business here at Borleske on Tuesday night in West Coast League baseball action.
The Sweets, tied with Corvallis atop the South Division standings, defeated Cowlitz, currently in last place in the Division, 13-4 behind a 13-hit attack.
“It was a good team win,” Sweets manager Frank Mutz said. “We made some adjustments, put the ball in play, and pulled away.”
Brian Cromwell delivered a two-run double to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead before the Sweets came to bat.
The first four Sweets reached in the home first. Patrick Caulfield, after being hit by the first pitch of the game, stole second, and eventually scored on an errant pitch.
Cesar Lopez knocked in the tieing run, Chazz Martinez who had singled to reach base, with a sac fly and it was even at 2-2 after one.
The Sweets took the lead for good in the home third.
Singles from Justin Folz and Martinez set the stage for Lopez to deliver his second RBI with a single, and Jordan Stubbings would plate Martinez with a sac fly to left.
The Sweets had control with a 4-2 lead.
The Sweets struck out five times in the first three innings and left five runners stranded, but things were about to change.
“We left guys on and struck out,” Mutz added. “We made adjustments and quit striking out. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
The Sweets added two more in the fifth.
A walk, and singles by Stubbings and Parker Price loaded the bases.
The Sweets got one home on a wild pitch and another home on a bases loaded walk to Caden Cortese. 6-2 Sweets after five.
A Ben Fariss sac fly and a solo blast over the left field scoreboard off Stubbings’ bat got two more home in the Sweets sixth.
The Sweets continued to add on and pull away with an 8-2 lead after six.
The Sweets put this one away with a five-spot in the seventh.
Fariss, who struck out in his first two plate appearances, then walked and scored and in his fourth appearance lifted a sac fly to left to knock in a run, which brought him to the plate in the seventh with the bases juiced.
The UC Santa Barbara product blasted a bomb over the left field wall for a grand slam home run.
Fariss finished with five RBI.
“My second grand slam,” Fariss said. “I didn’t see the ball well in my first two at bats. I had to focus and react and not guess and see the ball.
“You have to stay within yourself,” Fariss said of his at bat with a runner at third and less than two outs. “You simply have to put the ball on the ground or get it in the air.
“The coach came out to the mound to visit the Cowlitz pitcher,” Fariss said of his bases loaded at bat. “I knew he would throw a fast ball (after the visit) and I just wanted to see the ball well. He threw the fast ball and I was able to be on time.”
On defense, after those two runs in the first, the Sweets pitchers, Landon Boeneke, Ty Hueckman, Brayde Hirai, and Bryson Spagnuolo limited the Black Bears to a singleton in the seventh and a singleton in the ninth. Too little too late.
“Our pitchers threw strikes (only three walks after the first),” Mutz added. “They (the pitchers) made adjustments and hit their spots.”
10 Sweets got at least one hit to spark the 13-run, 13-hit Sweets attack.
The Sweets improve to 16-6 and remain tied for first with Corvallis, a 3-0 winner over Portland Tuesday, with five games left in the first half.
However, the Sweets hold the first-half tie breaker by virtue of sweeping the Corvallis series.
“We are a great team,” Fariss added. “A loss (6-4 to Ridgefield on Sunday) doesn’t affect us. We show up the next day and play hard. We’ve just got to keep it rolling.”
“We don’t want to rely on the tie breaker,” Mutz summarized. “We want to take care of our own business.”
The Sweets host Cowlitz for the middle game of the three-game set tonight at 7:05 p.m. with fireworks to follow.
Sweets 13, Black Bears 4
Packard, Smith (4), Sashin (6), Takalo (7), Stevens (7) and Pichardt, Beckstead (5); Boeneke, Hueckman (4), Hirai (7), Spagnuolo and Cortese.
HR — WW: Stubbings, Fariss.
Hits — Cowlitz: Kim 2, Cromwell 2, Sosa, Ireland 2, Arakawa; WW: Martinez 2, Price 2, Folz, Lopez, Stubbings 2, Caulfield, Fariss, Cortese, Green, Cirillo.