Pippins Advance to First WCLCS With Game Three Victory

Pippins to host Corvallis in game one Tuesday

With an 11-5 victory over the Bellingham Bells in their West Coast League North Divisional Series, the Yakima Valley Pippins have advanced to the WCL Championship Series for the first time in franchise history.

The Pippins will host the Corvallis Knights for game one Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m., and the two teams will meet in Corvallis for games two and, if necessary, three Thursday and Friday.

The Pippins benefited from a six-inning quality start by Kirby Robertson, who allowed just three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three. He hit a speedbump in the first inning, giving up a two-run home run to Luis Aviles, his second of the series, to give the Bells a 2-0 lead.

Bells starter Joey Dixon had worse luck, walking Connor Coballes and Chaz Myers to start the game before Sam Olsson scored Coballes with a single. Dixon then walked Willie Lajoie to load the bases without an out.

Dixon settled in after a mound visit from pitching coach Jim Clem, but inducing a groundout from Michael Carpentier Jr. allowed Myers to score from third base to tie the game. After Blake Dickman lined out to the second baseman, Taylor Holder ripped a double to left field to give the Pippins a 4-2 lead.

Robertson allowed a leadoff double to AJ Davis in the second inning, and he would score on a base hit by Emilio Corona to cut the lead to just one run. In the bottom half of the inning, the Pippins got their run back after Spencer Marenco reached on an error to start the inning and scored on a double by Connor Coballes.

Robertson allowed just one more hit and recorded all three of his strikeouts after the second inning.

Lajoie singled to start the bottom of the fifth inning against new Bells pitcher Will Armbruester, and Armbruester would load the bases with one out before allowing Lajoie to score on a wild pitch. He walked the next three batters to load the bases again and force home a pair of runs before he gave way to Greg Blackman.

Blackman struck out Myers for the second out of the inning, but Olsson produced a two-run single to cap off the five-run fifth and give the Pippins a 10-3 lead.

Blackman would finish the game for Bellingham, tossing two scoreless innings before Lajoie doubled in the eighth and scored on a single by Corey Jarrell.

Peysen Sweeney took over on the mound for the Pippins in the seventh inning. He walked the leadoff batter before retiring the next three for a scoreless frame.

Landon Schirer pitched the eighth and ninth innings. After a scoreless eighth inning, he entered the ninth with an eight-run lead. He allowed two runs on three hits and one walk in the inning before sealing the win with his first strikeout of the night.

The Pippins have met the Knights twice in the playoffs previously and have one win against them, but had never won a playoff series before this season. Tuesday will be the first time the two teams meet in the WCL Championship Series.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

August 17, 2021