Game Saving Catch, Big 9th Inning Gives Walla Walla Game 1

YAKIMA, Wash.- Game one of the second series of the season went to the Sweets by a score of 12-4. Although 8-run victories seem pretty straightforward, this one was a lot closer than the score indicates.

It started with a bang, as the Sweets tallied 5 runs in the opening inning on 2 walks and 6 hits.  The top of the first saw 10 batters come to the plate before it concluded, and the Pippins were behind out of the gate.

After that offensive explosion, Pippins pitching got locked in. The Sweets would be held scoreless for the next 5 innings, while leaving 11 on base over that span.

Riley Whelan highlighted that stretch, coming in and getting a huge strikeout with the bases loaded in the 3rd. He finished his outing with 2.1 scoreless innings and 3 strikeouts.

“It felt good. I just took my time with each pitch and really emphasized what I wanted to do with the ball,” said Whelan. “It all worked out pretty well.”

That scoreless stretch allowed for the bats to start heating up, and finally in the 5th, the Pippins broke through. A walk and a wild pitch set up Eric Mast’s RBI single, and some good baserunning allowed him to score and cut the lead to 5-2.

Yakima Valley would add another on Jake Borst’s triple and Liam McCallum’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.

Walla Walla would find success in the 7th however, as when it looked like Blake Leaverton was going to tightrope out of a tough jam, a 2-out single off of the wall scored 2. Heading to the 8th, the Sweets had a 7-3 lead.

Gaven Mattson retired the side in the top half of the 8th and swung the momentum back for the Pippins, and in the bottom of the 8th Yakima Valley had their chance. An RBI single made it 7-4, and Eric Mast came up with the bases loaded and 2-outs.

After taking a couple pitches, Mast drove one deep to right field which looked like it would surely clear the bases and tie the game. Right fielder Will Fuenning II made an unbelievable falling catch at the warning track and ended the inning and the Pippins hopes.

Walla Walla ran away with it in the top of the 9th, plating 5 more runs and securing the game 1 victory 12-4.

The Pippins will look to bounce back tomorrow when game 2 starts at 6:35 on Pippins Baseball YouTube.

By Zach McKinstry

June 8, 2022