Dollard Delivers Gem as Pippins Take Pitcher's Duel Over Cowlitz
LONGVIEW, Wash. – In his fourth scheduled start of the season against the Corvallis Knights on July 24, Taylor Dollard (Cal Poly-SLO) lasted just two innings because of a blister that provided him with extreme discomfort on his throwing hand. In his fifth start, on Tuesday night against the Cowlitz Black Bears, Dollard more than made up for his early exit in his prior outing, dealing eight shutout innings, while getting a lone run of support via a home run from his future Mustang teammate, Brad Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO), as the Pippins beat the Black Bears 1-0 for a crucial win to begin their regular season-ending six-game road trip.
Early on in the game, Dollard and Cowlitz starter, Christian Cosby (Chapman) locked in an exciting pitcher’s duel, which each trying to out-do the other frame-by-frame. Cosby struck out seven of the first 14 batters he faced en route to four scoreless frames to start his outing. The Pippins (26-23, 13-9) did have a good chance to plate the first run in the fourth inning as Beesley drew a one-out walk before Lucas Denney (Seattle U) was hit by a pitch. The two baseruners then pulled off a double steal to give the Pippins two men in scoring positon but both were left stranded. The Pippins threatened again in the sixth inning against Cosby, as Tora Otsuka (San Diego) walked to begin the frame before Denney was once again hit by a pitch. The rally ended, however, when Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton) bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end.
If Cosby was great on the mound for Cowlitz then Dollard was nothing short of sensational for Yakima Valley. After allowing a single to the first batter he faced on the night, Andy Armstrong (Oregon State), to leadoff the home half of the first inning, Dollard proceed to retire a remarkable 16 batters in a row. After inducing an inning-ending double play in the first, he retired the side in order from the second inning through the fifth, while striking out five over that span.
Cowlitz (24-25, 13-9) finally broke through for a scoring opportunity in the sixth when they rallied with two outs off of Dollard via a hit-by-pitch and another Armstrong single. Dollard did not flinch, however, and struck out the next batter, Nyles Nygaard (Western Oregon), to end the threat. Ultimately, Dollard fanned nine batters over eight scoreless innings for the Pippins.
With the game still scoreless in the eighth inning, the Pippins, who had missed key chances to plate the game’s first run in the fourth and sixth innings, got a one-out single from Otsuka. He was quickly erased, however, when he was caught stealing second base on the first pitch of Beesley’s at-bat. With no one on base and two outs, Beesley took matters into his own hands, as he crushed a breaking ball into the Cowlitz bullpen for the game’s first and only run.
After Dollard exited the game with the Pippins leading 1-0 after eight innings, Connor White (Portland) came out for a second consecutive save but struggle right out of the gate, as he allowed a leadoff single to pinch-hitter, Kona Quiggle (Grand Canyon). Quiggle was then moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before a lineout brought Cowlitz down to their final out.
White proceeded to walk the next two batters to load up the bases with two outs for Derek Scott (Abilene Christian). With the tying run at third and the winning run at second base, White worked his way back from a 3-1 count and induced a game-ending pop-out to second base as the Pippins’ held on for the 1-0 victory.
Game Notes: Dollard earned his sixth win to improve to 6-0, tying him for the most wins in the WCL. Of the three pitchers with six wins, Dollard is the only one to not have a loss on his record. Dollard has earned a win in six of his seven appearances, with the only time he did not do so being his July 24 outing against Corvallis that was cut short due to his hand injury. He now holds a 1.92 ERA over the course over 32 2/3 innings worked with 24 strikeouts and five walks. Dollard’s nine strikeouts tonight were the most by a Pippins pitcher this season and two shy of the single-game franchise record of 11. White now leads the WCL with ten saves, despite having to battle to do so. He also pushed his scoreless innings streak to 13 1/3 and has still not allowed a run since July 3 against Kelowna. With ten saves, White is now two shy of the Pippins’ single-season record of 12, set by Wyatt Mills, who was recently drafted in the third round by the Seattle Mariners, back in the Pippins’ inaugural season of 2014.
Cowlitz reliever, Cole Henderson (Nevada), served up the go-ahead home run to Beesley in the eighth as he picked up his third loss to fall to 2-3. Cosby, who struck out eight for the night, earned a no decision, despite six scoreless innings.
With his eighth inning home run, Beesley has now totaled six long balls for the season and two in his past five games played. With his single in the first inning, Otsuka extended his season-long hitting streak to ten games and also reached base for the 24th consecutive contest. His 24-game on-base streak is the second longest active streak in the WCL. Denney was hit by two pitches for the second time this season. He was also hit twice on July 23 against Corvallis.
The shutout was the second in the past three games for the Pippins as they also shutout Port Angeles in an 8-0 win on Sunday. The Pippins improved to 9-13 on the road and 6-7 in one run games. After losing five of their first six one-run contests, the Pippins have won five of their past seven. With White’s ninth inning save, the Pippins are 24-1 when leading after eight innings and a perfect 12-0 in the second half. Their only loss when leading after eight innings came when White blew a save opportunity back on June 20 at Walla Walla.
What It Means: With the win, the Pippins have won four in a row and move to within a half game of Corvallis in the WCL South second half standings. The Pippins also now own an overall record two games better than Cowlitz, an important note considering overall record serves as a tiebreaker for the second playoff berth if Corvallis wins the second half.
With the loss, Cowlitz has dropped six of their past seven and has fallen out of first place in the South standings for the first time since July 12.
What’s Next: Game two of the series is tomorrow night. Right-hander, Will Adair (Cal Poly-SLO, 2-1, 3.38 ERA), will make his third start for the Pippins against Cowlitz right-hander, David Appleby (Santa Barbara City College), who will be making his 2017 Black Bears debut. Appleby pitched for Cowlitz in 2016 and faced off against Yakima Valley on the road on August 2 and took the loss, allowing eight runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Due to a heat advisory that has gone into effect, first pitch, which was originally slated for 6:35 p.m., has been pushed back to 7:05 p.m., at Story Field. Temperatures are expected to rise as high as 104 degrees in Longview, Washington on Wednesday and as high as 106 degrees on Thursday for the series finale, when first pitch will also be 7:05 p.m.
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 June 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.