Pippins fight back after four-run Elks first
The Yakima Valley Pippins broke out the brooms for their fourth sweep of the season, second of a West Coast League opponent, as they defeated the visiting Bend Elks 8-4 Thursday.
The Pippins (21-12, 6-3 in the second half) have now won four straight and remain on top of the North Division in the second half, while the Elks (12-18, 2-4) find themselves at the bottom of the South Division after getting swept.
For the third straight game, the Elks got out to an early lead, putting four runs up against Pippins starter Dylan Bishop in the first inning.
Gavin Rork started the game with a triple to right field and scored on a sacrifice fly by Collin Montez. Bishop then walked Chase Matheny and Gavin Logan before Matt Dallas launched a three-run home run to left field to give Bend a 4-0 lead before the Pippins even stepped to the plate.
Bishop settled in after the first inning, pitching another four innings without allowing another run and retiring the last eight consecutive batters before he exited.
Meanwhile, his offense mounted their comeback over two innings.
In the bottom of the second inning, Alex Shanks reached on a throwing error by the third baseman Dallas and Taylor Holder walked. Austin Plante notched his first WCL hit since June 22, driving in Shanks for the first Pippins run of the game. Alex Fernandes hit a hard grounder to the second baseman Austin Hauck who could only get Plante out at second, allowing Holder to score and cut the Elks lead in half.
Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek led off the bottom of the third inning with a single, followed by Sam Olsson walking. Elks starter Jack Slominski then struck out a pair of Pippins hitters and looked like he might get out of the inning unscathed.
Instead, Shanks doubled to left field to score Martin-Grudzielanek and move Olsson to third base. Olsson tied the game when he was able to score on a wild pitch that went between the legs of the catcher Logan.
Holder followed with another double to score Shanks and give the Pippins a lead they would not relinquish. Plante added an insurance run with a single to center field that was misplayed by Gavin Rork, allowing Holder to score, but Plante was thrown out at second trying to capitalize on the play to end the inning.
Blake Dickman was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fifth and moved to third base on two separate wild pitches from Slominski, who walked Mason Marenco to put runners on the corners. The Elks then turned to Cameron Smith, who got Shanks to fly out to center, but Dickman was able to tag up to give the Pippins a 7-4 lead.
Smith would remain in the game and was able to pitch scoreless sixth and seventh innings.
Case Matter entered in the sixth inning and needed just seven pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. He returned for the seventh and struck out the side to hold the lead.
Peysen Sweeney relieved Matter (0-0, 8.59 ERA) pitched the final two innings for the Pippins, striking out the first two batters of the eighth inning to extend the stretch to 16 consecutive Elks batters retired before he allowed a single to Matheny.
The Pippins added an eighth run in the eighth inning after loading the bases on singles by Shanks and Holder and a walk by Plante. Fernandes walked to force home the final run of the game.
Sweeney (0-0, 1.12 ERA) finished off a scoreless ninth inning, locking up his first save of the season. The Pippins have had a pitcher record a save in each of their four-straight wins. Bishop (4-1, 4.50 ERA) took the win after gutting it out past the first inning.
The Pippins head on the road for a weekend series against the Wenatchee AppleSox that kicks off Friday at 6:35 p.m., with live audio-only coverage provided by Chris Rosato Jr. at PippinsBaseball.com/Live.