Sordahls Blast Boosts Pippins to Win Over Black Bears
YAKIMA, Wash. – When Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) hit a line drive that drifted just inside the foul pole and over the right field fence on June 27 in the Yakima Valley Pippins’ 7-3 win over the Bend Elks, even he attributed the solo shot to wind and a little luck. After all, Sordahl had hit just one home run in his entire collegiate career to date, and had never been considered a power hitter. On Saturday against the Cowlitz Black Bears, Sordahl set out to make sure the home run was not a one-hit wonder, as he sent a blistering go-ahead three-run home run over the left field fence as part of a four-run bottom of the 3rd inning for the Pippins, who went on to beat Cowlitz 7-5 in their opener to the second half of the WCL season.
The Pippins (14-14, 1-0) got off to a rare fast start, as they scored in the bottom of the 1st inning off of Cowlitz left-hander, Nico Tellache (Oregon), with Tora Otsuka (San Diego) doubling in Jonny DeLuca (Oregon), who led off the game with a walk. Cowlitz (11-17, 0-1) responded right away in the top of the 2nd off of Pippins starter, Taylor Dollard (Cal Poly-SLO), however, plating four runs on five hits to take a 4-1 lead into the 3rd.
It was in the 3rd inning that the Pippins came alive, as DeLuca and Otsuka both drew walks. After a pop-out, Dillon Plew (Washington State) also walked, loading the bases with one out for Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton) whose sacrifice fly to deep center brought in DeLuca from third to cut the deficit in half to 4-2. With two outs, and runners now on the corners, Sordahl dug in and soon launched a three run blast to left off Tellache, to give the Pippins a 5-4 lead, which they did not relinquish.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Pippins struck for two more runs, first on a Sordahl sacrifice fly to plate Plew, who had singled to begin the frame, before Lucas Denney (Seattle U) laced a double down the left field line to plate Cope, and give the Pippins a 7-4 lead.
Cowlitz came back with a run of their own in the top of the 6th to make it a two-run game, but the Pippins looked as if they were going to regain their advantage in the 8th, when they loaded the bases for the top of the order with no outs. Two strikeouts and a pop-out later, however, the Pippins had left the bases full.
The two-run edge proved to be plenty for a relief combination of Pete Minella (Western Illinois) and Connor White (Columbia), as Minella threw a few scoreless innings of relief before White came on to get the save in the 9th and secure the win.
Game Notes: Dollard earned the win in his first WCL start after lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing five runs (two earned) on eight hits, while striking out two. With the win, he is now 3-0. Minella allowed four hits and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings of work after coming on with one out in the top of the 6th, and White shut the door in the 9th to pick up his fourth save of the season, and his first since June 16 against Gresham. White’s four saves are tied for the second most in the WCL as of Saturday night.
Sordahl’s three run home run in the 3rd was his second home run of the season. He also homered on June 27 in the 2nd inning against Bend, as stated above. The two home runs this WCL season are especially impressive for Sordahl given that he has hit only one home run in his collegiate career. The lone long ball came when he was playing for Walla Walla CC on May 11, 2016 against Big Bend CC. Sordahl is the sixth Pippins batter to post two or more home runs this season, joining Beesley, Plew and Denney (three each), and Otsuka and Tyler Sandoval (Colorado Mesa), who each have hit two. Sordahl also extended his current team-high eight game hitting streak to nine.
The Pippins have now hit 17 home runs, including nine at Yakima County Stadium. They have already surpassed their previous high for long balls at home in a single season. Their previous high came in their inaugural season of 2014, when they hit seven at home, and 24 total, the most home runs the team has hit in a single season of its four year franchise history.
What It Means: With the win, the Pippins snap a two-game West Coast League losing streak, and move to 1-0 in the second half, 2.5 games back of Corvallis in the WCL South, who has now won eight in a row to start the second half at 5-0. With the loss, the Black Bears’ two game win streak comes to an end. They are three games back of Corvallis in the South.
What’s Next: Game two of the series is Sunday. Right-hander A.J. Landis (Colorado Mesa) is set to make his sixth start for the Pippins against Cowlitz right-hander, Davis Baillie (Washington State), with first pitch set for 5:05 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.