Pippins complete sweep on road for first time since 2018
The Yakima Valley Pippins played into extra innings, but put together a four-run 11th inning to put away the Port Angeles Lefties for the third time in their series.
The win completed the Pippins’ fifth sweep of the season, but was their first road series sweep and came on the heels of getting swept by Corvallis in the first half of their six-game road trip.
Playing an afternoon game for just the second time this season, fly balls rising into the light-blue sky made things difficult for outfielders. The first instance came on Connor Coballes’ first hit of the day, a fly ball that should have been caught but fell untouched in center field as Coballes raced around for a double to start the game.
Michael Carpentier Jr. singled him home to put the Pippins ahead early 1-0. With that run, the Pippins scored the first run in each game of their road trip.
This time, the Lefties had an answer in the bottom of the first inning against Pippins starter Payton Robertson. Jaden Matthews and Nick Oakley started the inning with singles, and both would race around to score on a double by Bryce Matthews to give the Lefties the lead. Luke Saunders drove Bryce Matthews home with a single, and Port Angeles found themselves ahead 3-1.
After the Lefties added another run in the third inning, the Pippins began mounting a comeback in the fourth. Blake Dickman led off with a single, moved to second on a groundout and to third ona single by Chase Graves. With runners on the corners, Corey Jarrell knocked a double to left field that scored Dickman easily, cutting the Lefties’ lead in half.
Alex Fernandes worked a full-count walk to start the fifth inning, then used his speed to take two bases when Port Angeles starter Zach Ediger’s pickoff attempt got past first baseman Nathan Chong. That allowed him to score on a Sam Olsson sacrifice fly to right field.
With the bases clear and one out, Carpentier Jr. doubled to keep the inning going. He would score on a double by Dickman to tie the game, 4-4.
Graves walked and Jarrell singled to start the sixth inning, and Coballes loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice gone awry. Fernandes hit a pop-up down the left field line that dropped untouched and fair after the third baseman and shortstop ran into each other, allowing everyone to move up a base and the Pippins to re-take the lead. Another sacrifice fly from Olsson gave the Pippins a 6-4 lead.
Robertson (2-2, 6.13 ERA) turned in a five-inning start for the Pippins, allowing four total runs (three earned) on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. He left with a 6-4 lead and gave way to Julian Taudin-Chabot in the sixth inning.
Taudin-Chabot held the line until the seventh inning, when Ethan Flodstrom doubled with one out and scored on a single by Anthony Kodama to cut the lead to just one run. Taudin-Chabot struck out the next batter and induced a flyout to end the inning without any further damage. Those were the only hits and run allowed by Taudin-Chabot (1-1, 7.44 ERA) in his two innings of relief. He did not issue a walk and struck out one.
Owen Wild came on in the eighth to try to secure a six-out save, but Coleman Schmidt doubled to start the inning and Chong came through with a two-run home run to right field to take a 7-6 lead.
Zach Thomas came on for a save in the ninth for the Lefties, but he also blew his save opportunity when Willie Lajoie, who was 0-for-4 coming into the top of the ninth, bailed Wild out with a solo home run to left field to start the inning and tie the game back up, 7-7.
The next three Pippins were retired, and Wild struck out three of the four batters he faced in the bottom half to send the game into extras.
Both Thomas and Wild shut their opposing offenses down in order in the 10th inning, setting up a shootout in the 11th.
Thomas, in his third inning of relief, allowed a single to Sam Olsson to start the inning. The Pippins decided to pinch-run Spencer Marenco for him, but Marenco was caught stealing for the first time this season to clear the bases with one out.
Carpentier Jr. walked to get the momentum rolling again, and Lajoie hit a hard bouncer to third base that went off Schmidt’s glove and into left field, allowing Carpentier Jr. to get to third base and putting runners on the corners.
Dickman was called upon to lay down a squeeze bunt and executed beautifully, bunting it soft enough to avoid a throw to first, but far enough away from home that catcher Jack Holman did not have enough time to collect it and return to tag Carpentier Jr. scoring.
An awkward-looking bunt on a pitch that almost bounced, Lefties head coach Matt Acker went out to argue that the bunt had actually hit Dickman’s bat twice and should have been a foul ball, but home plate umpire Eric Swift and field umpire Jordan Smart disagreed. Acker refused to give up his argument and had to be ejected by Swift and escorted away from Swift by Smart.
The Pippins would add to their lead with an RBI double by Mason Marenco on the next pitch to take a 9-7 lead before the Lefties made a pitching change.
New pitcher Evan Canfield struck out Taylor Holder, but Jarrell worked a full-count walk to load the bases before Coballes drove in another two runs with a single. The four-run inning gave Owen Wild an 11-7 lead to defend in the bottom half.
Visibly beginning to tire in his fourth inning of relief, Wild pushed through a leadoff single and double to induce a ground ball that scored a run but got the first out. Tensions mounted when Kodama doubled home another run, cutting the lead to 11-9, but Wild dug down deep to strikeout Jaden Matthews swinging and get Javy Espinoza to fly out to right field to end the game.
Wild (3-0, 3.37 ERA) vampired a win with his four innings of relief in which he struck out five and walked just one. He allowed four runs on four hits.
The Pippins (28-17, 13-8 in the second half) boosted their lead in the second half North Division standings to two games over Bellingham, but Bellingham has locked up a playoff spot regardless by virtue of having the second-best winning percentage in the North behind the Pippins.
Yakima Valley will take Monday off before welcoming in the Wenatchee AppleSox for their final home series of the regular season. They kick off the series with another Toyota Tuesday Family Night Out, starting at 6:35 p.m.