Pippins force decisive game three to be played Monday at The Orchard
The Yakima Valley Pippins evened the West Coast League North Divisional Series with the Bellingham Bells, riding a six-run third inning and two great pitching performances.
The win was a first for the franchise against the Bellingham Bells in the playoffs and just their second playoff win overall. The Pippins are now one win away from their first-ever WCL Championship Series.
Seth Kuykendall started on the mound for the Pippins, turning in 5.2 innings without allowing an earned run. His lone blemished inning came when Connor Coballes overthrew first base on a ground ball that could have been the third out.
Instead, the inning continued and Malakhi Knight singled home a pair of runs. After Emilio Corona moved him to third base with a single, putting runners on the corners with two outs, Corona was intentionally caught stealing second base after getting into a pickle that allowed Knight to score.
The three runs were all for the Bells, but they came close to adding to their total in the sixth inning, when Kuykendall walked two and allowed the singles to load the bases with two outs.
The Pippins then turned to Owen Wild, who needed just one pitch to induce a groundout and escape the jam.
The Pippins put together five hits and took advantage of an error in the bottom of the third inning to chase Bells starter Zack Simon and take the lead away from Bellingham.
After Alex Shanks singled to lead off the inning, Taylor Holder hit a ground ball to third baseman AJ Davis, whose throw to start a double play skipped away from second baseman Ty Saunders and everyone was safe. Connor Coballes singled to load the bases with no outs.
Chaz Myers dropped a bloop single into center field to bring home the first Pippins run of the game, and Sam Olsson was hit by a pitch to force home a second run. The Bells then turned to Ryan Beitel.
Beitel started by striking Willi Lajoie out with a full count for the first out, but Michael Carpentier Jr. softly lined a ball over the head of Davis into left field, scoring Coballes and Myers to give the Pippins a 4-3 lead. Blake Dickman singled home Olsson, and Carpentier Jr. scored from third when Mason Marenco beat out the second half of a double play to put Yakima Valley ahead 6-3.
Wild continued his outing in the seventh, allowing a two-out single and double but stranding both runners with his second strikeout. After a scoreless eighth, he struck out the first two batters of the ninth inning and worked around a single to finish off the save.
Kuykendall earned the win and was one out shy of recording a quality start.
With Bellingham’s win Saturday, the series will be decided Monday night at The Orchard, and the winner will take on the Corvallis Knights in the WCL Championship Series beginning Tuesday. Monday night’s game will start at 7:05 p.m., and tickets are available at PippinsTickets.com.