Pippins Complete Sweep Over Highline

Molenda, Plante hit back-to-back home runs to cap off win

The Yakima Valley Pippins completed their third three-game sweep of the season with a 13-3 victory over the Highline Bears Thursday.

The win was capped off by Brock Molenda lining a home run to right field for his first hit with the team and Austin Plante following with a home run of his own, the first time the Pippins have hit back-to-back home runs since 2017.

Molenda, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Wednesday’s win, started behind the plate for the second time and threw out both runners who tried to steal second base against him.

Kirby Robertson started on the mound for the Pippins, throwing five scoreless innings while striking out a season-high seven batters. He allowed just four hits and walked three on his way to the win.

For the first time in the series, the Pippins scored first when they batted around in the third inning. Spencer Marenco and Taylor Holder walked with one out, and Marenco scored the first run of the game when Sam Olsson singled and moved to second base on the throw home.

Alex Shanks singled Holder home and stole second base to put runners on second and third again. The inning continued when Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek reached on an error by the third baseman, scoring Olsson and giving the Pippins a 3-0 lead.

Martin-Grudzielanek took off for second base, drawing a throw from the catcher that allowed Shanks to score from third, then stole third base as well. After Molenda walked to put runners on the corners, Plante grounded into a fielder’s choice but beat out the double play to drive in a fifth run for Yakima Valley.

The Pippins added a pair of runs in the fourth inning, when Marenco led off with a single and Olsson and Shanks doubled back-to-back. 

For the second night in a row, Highline scored all of their runs in one inning. On Thursday, their three runs came in the sixth inning off Ryan Arredondo.

Arredondo started the inning by walking Tyler Black, who moved to third base on a single by Jaren Larson. Arredondo got his first out by stopping a chopper up the middle and tagging out Black, who was caught up between third and home.

Arredondo hit the next two batters, loading the bases and forcing home the first Bears run of the game. A sacrifice fly drove in the second run, and two more walks loaded the bases and forced home another run before the Pippins turned to left-hander Connor Wilson, who struck out the ninth batter of the inning for the final out.

Wilson pitched two more scoreless innings despite walking four batters and stranding the bases loaded in the seventh and two more runners in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Pippins kept adding to their total with another three runs in the sixth inning and the two solo home runs in the eighth to win 13-3.

The Pippins depart for Cowlitz for a weekend series kicking off at 6:35 p.m. Friday. Live audio-only coverage of the game can be found at PippinsBaseball.com/Live.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

July 16, 2021