The Walla Walla Sweets saw a six-run lead vanish, but they still came away undefeated as they pulled off a 9-6 comeback win over the Bend Elks in West Coast League baseball action here at Borleske Stadium on Saturday.
The Sweets (5-0 record) had opened the weekend series against Bend with a 3-0 win on Friday.
On Saturday, run-scoring singles by Cesar Lopez and David James Le Bioda gave the Sweets a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
Sweets starting pitcher Travis Craven had already notched six strikeouts without allowing a hit before he turned the mound over to reliever Brennan Patterson in the top of the fourth inning.
Nelson Padilla would double with one out in the fourth for the first Bend hit, but Patterson escaped trouble.
Walla Walla then upped its lead to 6-0 with four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Patrick Caulfield walked with the bases loaded, Tristan King scored on a wild pitch, Brandon Wagstaff raced home on a Lopez groundout, and Justin Folz hit an RBI double.
But the Sweets would see that lead only continue to fade over the next three innings until it was gone.
Bend answered with a four-run rally of their own in the top of the fifth inning.
Another run for Bend in the sixth narrowed the Walla Walla lead to 6-5.
Bend then tied things up with a run in the seventh.
The Sweets wasted little time recovering.
Bend opened the eighth inning with a single off Charles Dimick Wood, the fourth Walla Walla pitcher of the night, but the Elks ended up going scoreless for the first time since the fourth.
The bottom of the eighth then saw King hit a leadoff single, pinch runner Mason Kokodynski took second base on a wild pitch, and Wagstaff singled him home for a 7-6 lead.
Le Bioda later doubled home Caufield and Wagstaff for some insurance.
The Sweets improved their unblemished West Coast League-best record to 4-0 Friday night with a 3-0 victory over the Bend Elks here at Borleske Stadium.
A quartet of Walla Walla pitchers — Bryson Spagnuolo, Nick Irwin, Charles Harrison, and Reid Sebby — combined on a four-hitter that was highlighted by 13 strikeouts.
Spagnuolo walked Nico Burgarello to lead off the game. Efry Cervantes followed with a 5-4 fielder’s choice and Bobby Peirce doubled him to third. But umpires ruled that Cervantes did not make contact with the second-base bag on his way to third and was called out as a result. Spagnuolo ended the inning by striking out Zach Needham on a called third.
Patrick Caulfield led off the home first by falling behind Bend starting pitcher Tyler Worrell 0-and-2. Two pitches later, Caulfield deposited a 1-2 Worrell delivery over the left-field wall to give the Sweets a 1-0 lead.
“He (Worrell) left a curveball up and I decided to put a ball in the air,” said Caufield, who has 10 hits – nine of which are singles – in 17 at-bats this season. “It felt good to put something in the air. It felt really nice.”
Spagnuolo started the second inning by fanning Tanner Cantwell, but allowed a walk to Deron Johnson — who moved to second on a passed ball. But Spagnuolo retired Jake Jarvis and Chase Fernlund on grounders to second to get out of the frame.
Burgarello collected a one-out single in inning three and advanced as far as third, but Spagnuolo struck out Cervantes and got Peirce to fly out to right to wiggle off the hook. “We had a willingness not to give in,” Spagnuollo said. “I was not worrying about three outs, just making our defense work.”
Nick Irwin replaced Spagnuolo in the fourth inning and extricated himself from a first-and-second mess by K’ing Jarvis and Fernlund to end the frame.
An easier time was had by Irwin in the fifth inning. He sat Justin Parsons down on a fly to right, Burgarello flew to left, and Cervantes struck out looking.
“I just tried to do my job,” Irwin said. “It turned out really well.”
Harrison punched out Peirce and Needham to start the sixth, but he hit Cantwell with a pitch and Johnson walked prior to Jarvis grounding out to first.
Caulfield singled with one out in the seventh inning. He stole second, his fifth theft of the season, then scored on a Cesar Lopez single to increase the Walla Walla lead to 2-0.
Harrison started a 1-2-3 eighth with back-to-back outs. Pinch-hitter Jorge Perez skied to center and Peirce went down swinging. Harrison hung a three-unassisted out on Cantwell after a walk to Needham.
“I controlled every pitch (fastball, curve, and change-up),” Harrison said. “I kept the hitters off balance. You have to make the best pitch you can every pitch.”
Walla Walla added additional insurance in the home eighth. Justin Folz led off with a double, swiped third, and scored on a Johnson throwing error.
Sebby pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. Johnson flied to left and Jarvis struck out. Nelson Padilla kept Bend alive with a double down the right-field line, but Sebby rallied from a 3-0 count to set Parsons down on strikes to end the game.
“The best thing I can do 3-and-0 is to try to take it pitch by pitch and take a breather,” Sebby said. “You can’t be all hyped up. I thought about coming back and beating him.”
“It was a team effort overall,” Irwin said. “Everybody had to plan. When something didn’t go right, we didn’t fall apart.”
Sweets 3, Elks 0
Worrell, Castro (5), Kaser (8) and D. Johnson. Spagnuolo, Irwin (4), Harrison (6), Sebby (9) and B. Johnson, King (6), Wood (7).
HR — Walla Walla: Caulfield.
Hits — Bend: Burgerell, Peirce, Cantwell, Padilla. Walla Walla: Caulfield 2, Lopez 2, Folz, B. Johnson.
Luna, Williams (4), Cantwell (8) and DeNiro. Craven, Patterson (4), Irwin (5), Wood (7), Boone (9) and King.
HR — none.
Hits — Bend: Perez 3, Jarvis 2, Peirce, Burgerello, Padilla, Parsons, Femlund. Walla Walla: Folz 3, Caulfield 2, La Bioda 2, Lopez, Green, Wagstaff, King.