Pippins Roll Past Knights For Game One Victory
YAKIMA, Wash. – The Yakima Valley Pippins entered Tuesday’s postseason matchup against the Corvallis Knights winless in their postseason history, while also having never produced more than three runs in any of their four previous postseason games. That changed in a big way on Tuesday night, as the Pippins collected 15 hits from eight different players en route to a 9-3 victory in game one of their best of three WCL South Divisional Series against Corvallis.
The Pippins (1-0, 29-26) did not take long to get jumpstarted, as after Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) drew a leadoff walk against Corvallis starter, Cole Spear (UC Irvine), in the bottom of the first inning, Brad Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) singled, setting up an RBI chance for Lucas Denney (Seattle U). Denney took advantage, blooping a single down the left field line to plate DeLuca for the game’s first run. Then with two outs, Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) singled to bring in Beesley to give the Pippins a two-run first inning.
The Pippins were just getting started, however, as the third inning provided an even greater offensive flurry. After consecutive singles from Denney and Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) to begin the frame, Sordahl came up in a run-producing spot again and took full advantage, singling through the right side to plate both runs and give the Pippins a 4-0 lead. Then, after Chase Wells (Seattle U) reached on an infield single to plate Sordahl, Tyler Bosetti (Nevada) doubled off the right field wall, setting up a DeLuca sacrifice fly which scored Wells and gave the Pippins a 6-0 lead with a four-run third inning.
Yakima Valley kept up their offensive rhythm in the fourth inning, as Denney doubled with one out in the frame before Ellis followed with a single. Sordahl then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt towards the first base line to score Denney and give the Pippins a 7-0 lead. Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton) then got in on the action when he singled to center field to score Ellis and make it an 8-0 game.
Corvallis (0-1, 34-21) finally got on the board in the fifth inning against Pippins’ starter, Taylor Dollard (Cal Poly-SLO), by using a pair of singles and a double-play groundout to make the score 8-1. The Pippins answered right away, however, using a Beesley RBI single to plate Bosetti to build the lead back to eight runs at 9-1.
The Knights got two more runs in the top of the sixth inning on a Jordan Qsar (Pepperdine) two-run home run off Dollard but that was all they could manage, as the Knights stranded five runners in the final three frames while Pippins’ relievers Will Adair (Cal Poly-SLO) and Grayson Jones (James Madison) worked three scoreless frames to seal the victory and the 1-0 series lead.
Game Notes: Dollard, who was named the WCL Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday for his eight scoreless innings of work in his last start on August 1 against Cowlitz, was solid again, working 5 2/3 innings while allowing three runs on three hits. He earned his seventh win of the season to improve to 7-0. Dollard has now earned the win in seven of his eight outings this season, and has yet to take a loss. Spear, who allowed eight runs on ten hits over 3 1/3 innings, took his second loss of the season to fall to 3-2.
With his single in the second inning, Otsuka has now hit safely in his past 14 games dating back to the end of the regular season and he has now reached base in 28 consecutive contests. With his single in the third inning, Ellis has now reached base safely in 20 consecutive games. Sordahl drove in four runs for the second time this season, after he also drove in four runs on July 8 against Cowlitz. He also collected a three-hit outing for the team-leading sixth time. With two hits tonight, Beesley recorded his first multi-hit game since July 27. With two hits, Ellis recorded his fifth multi-hit outing in his last eight. Denney recorded his fourth three-hit game of the season and his first since July 25.
With 15 hits to Corvallis’ 11, the Pippins have now out-hit the Knights in six of seven matchups this season. It was also only the second time in this season’s matchups that the Pippins scored the first run of the game and it was the first time the Pippins had plated a first inning run. Tuesday marked the seventh time this season that the Pippins have tallied at least 15 hits in a game.
When the Pippins plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning, it became the first time they had ever held a lead in a postseason game.
What It Means: Tuesday’s win was the Pippins’ first postseason win in franchise history. They had previously been swept in 2014 by the Bellingham Bells and were swept last year by Corvallis. The nine runs and 15 hits that the Pippins collected were both single-game playoff highs.
If the Pippins are to win on Wednesday night, they will advance to the WCL Championship Series to take on the winner of the North Divisional Round. Victoria leads Kelowna 1-0 in the series after an 8-2 win at home in game one.
What’s Next: Game two of the best of three series is set for Wednesday night in Corvallis. By virtue of having the better record, the Knights will host game two and game three (if necessary) of the series.
The Pippins have not yet announced a starter for the game. Corvallis will send out right-hander, Trenton Toplikar (UC Riverside, 2-0, 5.06 ERA), who will make his sixth start. Toplikar faced the Pippins in Yakima on July 22 and allowed four runs on ten hits over five innings while striking out four, but did not factor into the decision.
First pitch for game two is set for 6:40 p.m. from Goss 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 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.