After wrapping up a season-long 10-game homestand with a series sweep of Bend on Thursday, the Pippins hit the road on Friday for a three-game weekend series north of the border against the Victoria HarbourCats. First pitch of the series opener at Royal Athletic Park is set for 6:35 PM, with Pippins left-hander Jack Gonzales set to match-up against Victoria righty Aaron Celestino. Pregame coverage with Miles Klotz will begin at 6:20 PM at pippinsbaseball.com/live.
PIPPINS SWEEP BEND WITH MARATHON WIN: In the longest nine-inning game of the season for the Pippins, at 3 hours and 52 minutes, Yakima Valley prevailed victorious over Bend, 9-7, to complete their third consecutive three-game series sweep over the Elks. The Pippins jumped ahead 6-0 after three innings against Bend, but the Elks battled back to tie the game with runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. In the top of the 8th inning, off of Pippins reliever Nick Brown, former Pippin Dayton Provost singled to bring home the go-ahead run for Bend, their first lead of the series. Outfielder Kyle Dean relieved Brown and finished off the inning. Dean would also earn the win, as the Pippins offense exploded in the bottom of the 8th, with Brady Hormel’s go-ahead, 2-RBI triple proving the difference in a 3-run frame that helped capped off the 9-7 comeback win.
FOR THE PIPPINS: Left-hander Jack Gonzales, a West Coast League All-Star, will make his second start of the summer for the Pippins on Friday to open up the series in Victoria. Gonzales, a junior from Dixie State, made his first start of the summer last Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader against Port Angeles, throwing a 7-inning complete game and earning the win after allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, one walk, and 5 strikeouts. A 6-foot-3, 225-pound native of Oceanside, Callifornia, Gonzales is 2-0 on the seasonin 12 appearances, striking out 25 and walking 10 over 30 innings of work.
FOR THE ELKS: Right-hander Aaron Celestino will make his sixth start of the season on Friday in the series opener against the Pippins. The 6-foot, 200-pound righty from the University of the Incarnate Wordlast pitched in relief on July 7 against Bellingham, earning the win with 5 shutout innings out of the bullpen. In a start in Yakima on June 12, Celestino took his only loss of the year, allowing 4 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 strikeouts over 5 innings. On the season, the Houston, Texas native is 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA, striking out 25 and walking 3 over 28.2 innings of work.
LONG ONES: Thursday’s 3 hour, 52 minute marathon was the longest nine-inning game of the season for the Pippins, but it continued a recent trend of long nine-inning games for Yakima Valley. The Pippins have now played 11 games this season that have gone at least 3 hours long, including five in the first 11 games of the second half of the season. The Pippins have only played 10 nine-inning games this year that took less than 2 and a half hours, with 7 of those 10 coming in the first three weeks of the season.
ELIMINATING ELKS: With the Pippins’ sweep-clinching win over Bend on Thursday, Yakima Valley has now swept the last three series against the Elks, and four of the last five series dating back to 2017. The win improved the Pippins’ all-time record over Bend to 19-8.
A LOT OF DUDES: Within the past week, the Pippins have had four new players debut for the team in WCL play, brining their total number of players to appear in a game this season, through 36 games, to 47. Brothers Kyle and Tyler Dean, both position players, debuted early last weekend against Port Angeles, while left-hander Anthony Alvarado made his season debut on the mound on Sunday. On Thursday, right-hander Dominic Miller debuted in relief. A litany of injures has led to larger-than-expected roster turnover early in the season.
ODDS & ENDS: Thursday’s game was the first game all season in which the Pippins have hit multiple triples…Kyle Dean became the first position player to pitch in a game for the Pippins in 2019.