It ain’t over till it is over.
Walla Walla lived that saying here Sunday in West Coast League baseball action.
Ridgefield, which scored the winning run in a 9-8 Saturday win in the ninth inning, looked to do it again Sunday.
The Raptors hung a three-spot on the Sweets to break a 4-4 deadlock and take a 7-4 lead to the home ninth.
This time, it was the Sweets turn for a little ninth inning magic. The Sweets scored four times to pull out an 8-7 win.
With the win, the Sweets improve to 27-20 for the season and have the inside track to the South Division wild card playoff spot. If Corvallis holds on to add the second half division title to its first half title, and the Knights hold a three-game lead over Portland with seven games left, the wild card earns a playoff spot agianst Corvallis.
The Sweets hold a five-game lead, with seven to play, over 22-25 Ridgefield for that wild card spot.
If Corvallis closes out the second half, the Sweets’, with seven games left, magic number for a playoff spot is three — three Sweets wins or three Ridgefield losses or a combination totalling three.
The Sweets could not seem to buy a break for 8 and 1/2 innings here Sunday.
A Connor Cirillo throw from left almost nailed the Raptors’ Johnny Weaver at the plate, but the call went the other way, making the score 1-0 Raptors in the top of the third.
The Sweets got it tied with a single from Ryan Johnsoton, a Patrick Caulfield double, and a high-chop infield hit from Cesar Lopez to even things up a 1-1 after three.
A Johnston two-run single put the Sweets up 3-1 after four, but a Grayson Sterling two-out, two-run double got the Raptors even at 3-3 after five.
Ridgefield then got a run without a hit to grab a 4-3 lead in the sixth, but Walla Walla answered as Johnston’s ground out followed a Bryce Vitt walk and a Cirillo double to even the game at 4-4.
But the Sweets lost a run at the plate on a wild pitch that came bouncing back to Raptor catcher, Dominic Enbody, who applied the tag to the dismay of the Sweets fans, to Cirillo and the Sweets went to the seventh still tied at 4-4.
Walla Walla let another opportunity get away after Caulfield doubled with two outs in the eighth. With Brock Ephan at the plate, Caulfield got too anxious and was picked off second base to end the Sweets threat.
Then, there was the ninth.
An infield single, a hit batsman, a ground out to first, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with Raptors with one out.
Sweets relief pitcher Jake Dahl, who only gave up one run in three innings of relief entering the ninth, struck out Sterling for the second out.
Dahl then enticed a grounder from Michael Yourg, that should have ended the Raptor threat, but instead skimmed the second base bag and went for a two-run single.
Willie Cano followed with a grounder to short that took a horrendous hop and went for a run scoring single. 7-4 Raptors going to the home ninth.
“We go down three and they had a pretty good closer (Cameron Repetti) coming in,” Sweets manager Frank Mutz said. “He has closed a lot of games for them. Our guys never get too high or too low. They just work the inning and encourage the next guy to get on.”
“We fight,” Sweets catcher Vitt echoed. “We knew we could come back if we got a couple of guys on and could make something happen.”
Ephan drew a walk to start the Sweets ninth.
Caleb Farmer legged out a slow roller to third and brought the tieing run to the plate in Chazz Martinez.
Martinez lashed a two-strike pitch to right for a base hit and the Sweets had the bases loaded with no outs.
“Good at bat by Chazz,” Mutz added. “He shortened up and got a clutch hit.”
Repetti got a strikeout for the first out and Vitt, 0-for-2 with two walks on the game, came to the plate representing the winning run.
Vitt drilled a Repetti offering to the fence just to the right of dead center and with Martinez in full sprint from first, cleared the bases and wound up on third on a Raptor overthrow. to make it a 7-7 game with the winning run at third.
“Just before that at bat, I was complaining about the bat I had to use as I broke the one I was using (in an earlier at bat),” Vitt said. “He (Repetti) hung a curve ball and I got a good piece of it. It’s sureal.”
Emmanuel Dean added the exclamation point as the UCLA product lined a walk-off single to center to score Vitt with the game winner and send the Sweets home with an 8-7 win.
The rubber game of the three game series opens tonight at 6:35 p.m. at Borleske.
Sweets 8, Raptors 7
Shubert, Steele (5), Harper (6), Estes (7), Repetti (9) and Enbody; Boeneke, Dahle (6), Irwin (9) and Vitt.
HR — none.
Hits — Ridge: Yourg 3, Hicks 2, Enbody, Bauer, Sterling, Weaver, Cano; WW: Johnston 3, Martinez 2, Caulfield 3, Lopez, Cirillo, farmer, Vitt, Dean.