Eight-Run 5th Pushes Elks Past Pippins
BEND, Ore. – After the first two games of their series went down to the wire, it seemed only right that the Yakima Valley Pippins and the Bend Elks were tied at three headed to the bottom of the fifth inning in the rubber game on Thursday night. The Pippins also seemed on the verge of taking control, having just scored a run in the top of the frame. The Elks, in front of another large home crowd, had other ideas, however, plating eight runs in the inning en route to rolling to an 11-4 victory over the Pippins to take the series by winning the final two games.
For the third night in a row, the Pippins (22-23, 9-9) scored in the first inning, plating a run as Jonny DeLuca (Oregon), who singled to begin the game, came around to score on a Dillon Plew (Washington State) groundout.
In the bottom of the frame, the Elks (23-25, 11-10) were able to answer with a run of their own to tie the game off of Pippins’ starter, Kade Woods (Spokane Falls).
The score remained a 1-1 stalemate until the top of the fourth, when Brad Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) began the frame with a single. After Beesley moved to third base on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at first base by Bend starter, Kris Jackson (Corban U), Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton), lined a double down the right field line to give the Pippins a 2-1 lead.
Bend had an answer once again in the bottom of the frame, however, as tied the game on a sacrifice fly before taking their first lead of the night on an RBI single from Jordan Freese (Morehead State).
Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, the Pippins rallied again, as after DeLuca reached on an error to begin the frame, he advanced to third on another throwing error on a pickoff attempt from Jackson, before being driven in by another Plew groundout to tie the game at 3.
Locked in another tie, the Pippins hopes for a road win were quickly erased by an offensive avalanche from Bend in the bottom of the fifth inning, a frame in which six of their first seven batters reached base against Woods. Ultimately, Woods was able to get just two outs in the frame, as he left the game having allowed four runs with the bases still loaded. Grayson Jones (James Madison) came on in relief in a tough spot, and proceeded to induce a seemingly routine ground ball to short, which took a brutal hop and bounced off Pippins’ shortstop, Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) into centerfield to plate two more runs. When all was said and done in the fifth, Bend had scored eight runs on six hits while sending 12 to the plate and had taken a commanding 11-3 lead.
The Pippins did not show much life offensively in the later inning, with their final bright spot coming with one out in the ninth inning, when DeLuca hit a long solo home run to right field to cut the deficit to 11-4, which proved to be the final as Bend took the series.
Game Notes: Woods, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed ten runs (six earned) on 11 hits, took his fourth loss of the season to fall to 4-4. The ten runs allowed (regardless of whether they were earned), are the most ever allowed by a Pippins’ pitcher, surpassing the nine that Cullen Kafka allowed in the Pippins’ 25-8 loss to Wenatchee on June 12. Woods has now allowed 32 hits in his last four starts, while opponents are now hitting .330 against him. He has still not gone six innings in a start since June 11 at Wenatchee, after going six plus innings in each of his first four starts. Jackson earned the win for Bend and improved to 5-3, while allowing just three runs (two earned) over six innings.
The eight run fifth inning for Bend was the third time this season that the Pippins have allowed eight or more runs in a frame. The previous two both came on June 12 against Wenatchee, when they allowed 12 runs in the fourth inning and eight more in the eighth inning.
The home run in the ninth was the second of the season for DeLuca and his first since July 16 at Bellingham. It was the 29th home runs for the Pippins this season and their 18th on the road, breaking their previous franchise single-season record for home runs on the road, which had previously been 17, set back in their inaugural season of 2014. The Pippins have already broken their previous record set that same year for the most home runs in a single season, as they hit two on June 19 at home against Wenatchee to get to 25 and pass the 24 they hit that season.
DeLuca also recorded three hits for the fourth time this season, the second-most three-hit games to Steve Sordahl’s (St. Martin’s) five. DeLuca is also now riding a six game hitting streak, behind only Beesley’s eight-game streak for the longest-active on the team. Beesley recorded two hits for his 12th multi-hit game and fifth in his last seven. Denney also recorded two hits for his 12th multi hit game, which included a bloop double in the seventh inning that was lost in the sun by the Bend Elks. The double was his 14th of the season, tying him for the second-most in the West Coast League.
What It Means: While Bend won the series by taking the last two games after the Pippins took game one on Tuesday 8-5, the Pippins still won the season series 4-2, on account of their sweeping Bend from June 27 to 29 at Yakima County Stadium. The Pippins are now 10-8 all-time against Bend including 5-4 at Vince Genna Stadium.
With the victory, Bend moves to within 2.5 games of the Cowlitz Black Bears, who lost their third in a row and were swept tonight by the Bellingham Bells, in the WCL South second half standings. With the loss, the Pippins remain three games back of Cowlitz, and one game back in overall record. The Corvallis Knights did the Pippins a favor by beating Gresham to move within a game of Cowlitz in the second half standings. Should Corvallis win both halves, it would mean the second playoff berth in the WCL South would go to the team with the next best overall record. The Pippins went 13-14 in the first half compared to Cowlitz’s 11-16 mark, so the Pippins would have less work to do to clinch in such a scenario.
What’s Next: Bend begins a three game series at Gresham on Saturday after a day off tomorrow. The Pippins start a three game set with Port Angeles, their final home series of the season, on Saturday night.
First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at 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, and won their 100th game on July 13, 2017, to become the third-fastest WCL franchise to reach 100 wins. Yakima County Stadium recently played host to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game and includes 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.