Four Home Runs too Much for Pippins to Overcome
YAKIMA, Wash. – The Yakima Valley Pippins battled back from multiple deficits, and outhit the Gresham GreyWolves 13 to 11, but four Gresham home runs proved too much to overcome, as the GreyWolves held on for a 8-5 win to even the series on Thursday night.
The GreyWolves (6-8) got off to a great start facing Pippins left-hander, John Fuqua (Virginia Military Institute), as they struck to the tune of four runs in the top of the 1st, including a towering home run to dead center off the bat of Alec de Watteville (Sacramento State). The Pippins (5-6) responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame, as Dustin Yates (Washington State) walked with the bases loaded to score Tora Otsuka (San Diego) for the game’s first run. A familiar trend began to develop in the opening frame, however, as the Pippins did no further damage, leaving the bases loaded with one out, en route to leaving 12 runners on for the night.
The Pippins continued to chip away at the deficit when they tacked on another run in the bottom of the 2nd inning, as after Connor White (Columbia Basin) doubled off the right field wall to begin the frame, he was able to come around and score via a wild pitch from Gresham’s starter, Ryan Ward (Washington State). Gresham responded quickly in the top of the 3rd, however, as Tyler Parker (Clackamas CC) drilled the second home run of the night for the GreyWolves on a line drive over the left field fence, to stretch the lead back to three runs at 5-2. After stranding a few more baserunners in the 4th inning, the Pippins got another run across in the 5th, as Tyler Bosetti (Nevada) chopped a single through the right side to score Yates, who had singled with one out in the frame.
Leading 5-3 entering the 6th inning, Gresham decided to go to their bullpen, bringing in reliever, Daniel Caruso (Baylor), and similarly to Wednesday night, the Pippins took advantage. Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) began the frame with a single to right field and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) then ripped a double down the right field line to plate Plaia, and make it a one run game. Otsuka followed Sordahl with a base hit back up the middle to plate him and tie the game at 5.
The score remained tied until the 8th inning, when Gresham took the lead on a solo home run off the scoreboard in left field by Ross Puskarich (San Francisco), giving the GreyWolves a 6-5 advantage. In the home half of the frame, Sordahl reached third as the tying run after singling with one out, but was stranded after a groundout and strikeout. In the top of the 9th, Gresham got a few more insurance runs, one again courtesy of the long ball, and once again courtesy of Puskarich, who drilled a two run home run over the scoreboard in left to give the GreyWolves a 8-5 lead. The Pippins threatened in the bottom of the 9th, as after Lucas Denney (Seattle U) singled, Mitch Ellis (doubled) giving the Pippins runners on the corners with one out. Caruso settled down, however, rearing back with some heat to strikeout both Michael Wyatt (Columbia Basin) and White, to help snap Gresham’s five game losing streak.
Game Notes: Fuqua made his second West Coast League start for the Pippins and allowed two of the four home runs and five earned runs, but did not allow a run after the 3rd during his six innings of work, and struck out six while retiring the final ten batters he faced, en route to a no decision. Matt Driver (Yakima Valley) reliever Fuqua and gave up the first of two home runs to Puskarich to take the loss, while going 1 1/3 innings in relief. Liam Herlihy (Wenatchee Valley) after pitching a scoreless inning of relief on Wednesday, served up Puskarich’s second home run, as part of his 1 2/3 innings of work. Herlihy did strike out four batters but also walked two and hit one, to go with the two earned runs. Ward went five innings and allowed three runs with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit batter for Gresham en route to not garnering a decision while Caruso came on in relief in the 6th and allowed just the two runs in that frame while striking out five and not walking a single batter en route to earning the win.
Sordahl went 3 for 5 to record his first three hit outing of the season, and his third multi-hit game. He is one of two Pippins to start every game this season (along with Ellis) and is the only Pippins player to reach base in all 11 games. White and Plaia also produced their third and first multi-hit games respectively. The Pippins left 12 runners on base, one below their season high of 13 left on in their 9-6 loss to Bellingham on June 7. Of the 12 runners left on, nine were in scoring position, with the Pippins finishing 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position for the game.
Gresham’s four home runs were the most the Pippins have ever allowed in a game, surpassing the three they allowed on August 3, 2015 against Victoria. Puskarich is the third Pippins opponent in franchise history with a multi-home run game. He also becomes the second player in the West Coast League to have a multi-home run game this season, joining Colin Ridley of Bellingham, who ironically hit his two home runs against Gresham on June 11. The Pippins had entered the series as the only team in the West Coast League yet to allow a home run. They have now allowed five in the first two games of the series.
With the loss, the Pippins fall a game below .500 and stay three games back of the first place Corvallis Knights in the West Coast League South Division. With the win, Gresham snaps their five game losing streak, and moving to within 3.5 games of Corvallis in the division.
What’s Next: The rubber game of the series is set for Friday night, with right-hander Kade Woods (Spokane Falls) making his third start for the Pippins. Woods will face off against Gresham’s left-hander, Jarrod Billig (Seattle U), with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. from Yakima County Stadium.
ABOUT THE PIPPINS: The Yakima Valley Pippins compete in the West Coast League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues. The Pippins play their home games at Yakima County Stadium (“The Orchard”) in Yakima, Washington. After winning 96 games during their first three seasons in the WCL, the Pippins set the mark as the winningest WCL expansion team after three years. Yakima County Stadium will play host to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game, along with an extensive 31-game home season for Year No. 4 of Pippins' Baseball in 2017. Read more online at PippinsBaseball.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with #ThatWasAwesome.