Late-Inning Surge Helps Sweets to Series Opener Win

Kirby Robertson's quality start not enough in loss

The Yakima Valley Pippins dropped the first game of a home series against the Walla Walla Sweets, falling 9-7 after a late-inning surge from the Sweets offense.

With the win, the Sweets (7-6) have moved themselves into second place in the North Division and just one game behind the first-place Pippins (8-5).

Pippins starter Kirby Robertson turned in a quality start, striking out two in seven innings while giving up single runs in the first, fourth and sixth innings.

He walked Paul Myro to start the game, but got a line drive out to right field before Eli Paton singled. On the play, Corey Jarrell tried to throw out Myro trying to go first-to-third, but instead threw it away into the Pippins dugout, scoring Myro and moving Paton to second base.

After striking out Justin Folz, Colin Wetterau singled to left, but Taylor Holder threw Paton out at the plate to end the inning.

The Pippins started the bottom of the first inning with four straight hits, including an RBI double by Noah Williamson to tie the game. Sam Olsson grounded out, scoring a second run, and Mason Marenco singled home a third run to give Yakima Valley a 3-1 lead.

They added one more in the second inning, started by Alex Fernandes reaching on a fielder’s choice and moving to second on a groundout by Taylor Holder. With two outs, Connor Coballes popped up to shallow center field, but second baseman Parker Price failed to make the catch, allowing Fernandes to score from second.

The Sweets came within one run, but the Pippins again extended their lead with a three-run home run by Noah Williamson in the bottom of the sixth inning. Williamson’s home run traveled 367 feet and had an exit velocity of 113 miles-per-hour.

Robertson (0-0, 2.76 ERA) turned in a clean seventh thanks to the second double play turned by his defense before turning the ball over to Owen Wild in the eighth inning.

Wild struggled walking four of the five batters he faced – forcing home a run – while he struck out one. He left with the bases loaded and one out as the Pippins turned to Payton Robertson.

Robertson got Wetterau to ground out for the second out, driving in a second run, before Seth Ryberg singled home a pair of runs to tie the game. All four runs in the inning were charged to Wild (2-0, 4.65 ERA).

Willie Lajoie was hit on the helmet with one out in the bottom of the eighth, and the Pippins brought Donald Saltiban Jr. on to pinch run as the potential go-ahead run. But Noah Williamson grounded into a fielder’s choice to nullify the move before Sam Olsson struck out looking to keep the game tied.

Payton Robertson was sent back out for the ninth, but Coballes committed just his second error of the season to allow Cameron Butler to reach to start the inning. Butler moved to second on a wild pitch, and Nation Wood attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The bunt came back to Robertson, who threw to third, but failed to retire Butler as the throw was high, leaving runners on the corners with no outs.

Robertson was pulled in favor of Peyton Stumbo after walking Myro to load the bases. Price knocked in two go-ahead runs with a base hit before Paton flew out to left field and Folz grounded into a double play to end the ninth.

The Pippins struck out twice as they went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to take their third-straight loss into the middle game of the series Saturday. Payton Robertson (0-1, 2.84 ERA) was charged with the loss.

Saturday and Sunday’s start times have been pushed back due to extreme temperatures in the area. Saturday will start at 7:35 p.m. while Sunday’s game will start at 7:05 p.m.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

June 26, 2021