Offense capitalizes on errors, passed balls to win
The Yakima Valley Pippins held off a late-inning rally to win the third game of a three-game series in Bellingham Thursday night, 6-4.
With the win, the Pippins (4-2, 1st place in the North Division) secured their second straight series win to start the 2021 West Coast League season, defeating the defending-champion Corvallis Knights on opening weekend and the Bells (2-4) Tuesday-Thursday. They’ll return home to host the Ridgefield Raptors (5-1, 1st place in the South Division) for a weekend series Friday-Sunday.
Bellingham third baseman Ty Saunders had a rough day Thursday, committing two errors that were ultimately responsible for 4 of the Pippins’ 6 runs.
The first came in the second inning with Donald Saltiban Jr. on second base and two outs. Chaz Myers hit a hard ground ball to Saunders, who misplayed the hop and had the ball bounce off his wrist and into left field, scoring Saltiban. Myers would then score when Alex Shanks doubled.
The Pippins took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning, when Willie Lajoie and Noah Williamson led off with a pair of base hits. In a sacrifice situation, Michael Carpentier Jr. laid down a bunt, but Bells pitcher Will Armbreuster’s throw to third base to get the lead runner Lajoie instead skipped off the glove of Saunders and into left field, scoring Lajoie.
The Pippins would load the bases with a one-out walk before a passed ball and sacrifice fly helped them add another 2 runs to the total.
The Bells finally got to Pippins starter Payton Robertson (0-0, 2.08 ERA) in the fifth inning, but not before Carpentier threw out his fourth would-be base stealer of the season. Luke Rohleder, fresh off breaking Everett Community College’s single-season stolen base record, tried to swipe second base with Josh Trujillo on third, but instead was the first out of the inning.
Robertson was pulled with one out in the fifth in favor of Trevor Cassell after giving up a base hit to Zac Berryman that scored Trujillo. Cassell (1-0, 2.45 ERA) would escape the jam without any further damage, then add two more scoreless innings to earn the win.
Weston Janavs was called upon to pitch the eighth inning for his second appearance of the season, but his night was short-lived due to a mixture of bad luck and command issues.
After walking the first batter of the inning, Chase Graves lost a ball in the lights that put two runners on with no outs. Another hit loaded the bases, and then a tough play in left field saw Saltiban fail to catch a line drive as he approached the left field wall, scoring the Bells’ second run of the game.
A passed ball through the legs of Carpentier and another walk loaded the bases again with the Pippins’ lead cut to 5-3, and ended Janavs’ (0-0, 0.00 ERA) night.
From there, Ben Wills (0-0, 2.45 ERA) was called upon for a five-out save, though he did walk one of Janavs’ runners home after entering with the bases loaded.
The Pippins added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning thanks to heads-up baserunning from Noah Williamson and Saltiban, and Wills would close the door in the bottom half to secure the victory for the Pippins.
They’ll kick off a weekend home series against Ridgefield at 7:05 p.m. Friday.