“Defend the Orchard:” Success at Home Paves Way for Historic Season
More than wins and losses, Pippins are playing better at home
When the Yakima Valley Pippins entered their locker room ahead of their July 1 series finale against the Port Angeles Lefties, they were greeted by a new message on the white board: “DEFEND THE ORCHARD.”
Chase Graves had written the message on the board before leaving the night before, after the Lefties had defeated the Pippins for the second night in a row to open their series. It was the first time this season that the Pippins had failed to earn a win in either of the first two games, and they were in danger of getting swept.
In the finale, the Lefties got out to a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the first inning, but the Pippins tied it up in the third and took the lead in the fourth inning with a two-run home run of their own.
It was none other than Graves himself who gave the Pippins the lead. Landon Schirer would make his first appearance and record his first six-out save of the season to secure the win and prevent the sweep.
“We all love playing at The Orchard,” Graves said. “The fans are incredible, and you have the people who are there every night supporting us and then the families that come for a good time. It’s such a good atmosphere.”
The Pippins have indeed defended The Orchard well. While maintaining a 36-14 record overall, the Pippins are 26-6 at home. Against West Coast League opponents, they are 15-6.
But the differences run deeper than wins and losses.
“There’s nothing better than [playing at home]. It’s crazy,” Pippins starting pitcher Dylan Bishop said. “It’s crazy how large of an impact I have on these people, and how much these people back me up. It’s a truly amazing feeling”
Bishop has made seven appearances at home between West Coast League and non-league appearances, and has a 6-0 record. He made one relief outing in which he did not receive a decision.
In league play, he owns a 2.16 ERA in 25 innings, with a 20:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home. On the road, his ERA is 8.00 with a 9:7 K:BB ratio in 11 innings.
Beyond the hometown kid Bishop, the difference shows itself in overall team statistics. The Pippins pitching staff boasts a 3.62 ERA at home compared to a 5.33 ERA when on the road. On the other side of the ball, the Pippins offense is batting .239 with a .363 on-base percentage at The Orchard, with a slightly lower .228 average and .321 OBP when away.
Home field advantage played a large role in the team’s franchise-best 12-game win streak, as 10 of those games were won at home. That also became the longest home win streak in team history.
The Pippins just wrapped up their final non-league game of the season. They played all 11 games at home and finished 11-0.
The Pippins embark on a six-game road trip Tuesday, and they have one more home series left in the regular season. They will host the Wenatchee AppleSox August 10-12 to close the season.
The Pippins will also host at least one playoff game, as they host the second game of the first round of playoffs on August 15. Tickets for all of those games are available at PippinsTickets.com.
By Chris Rosato Jr.
August 1, 2021