Pippins Ride High-Powered Offense to Win

Pippins open non-league series with 10-run victory

The Yakima Valley Pippins’ high-powered offense shined in Tuesday’s series opening win against the Pacific International League’s Highline Bears.

Coming off a 3-0 comeback against the Bellingham Bells Sunday, the Pippins were able to repeat the feat after the Bears got off to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

In the bottom of the first, Alex Shanks and Willie Lajoie singled with one out before Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek – who moved up to the cleanup spot Tuesday – doubled the first run home. Taylor Holder was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Chase Graves, who drove in two to tie the game with a single.

Brock Molenda made his Pippins debut and was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance to load the bases again, this time for Alex Fernandes to single home a pair of runs to take a 5-3 lead.

The Bears were able to get a run back in the second inning to cut the Pippins lead to 5-4, but the Pippins put together a four-run third inning to extend their lead.

Holder walked to start the inning and Graves reached on an error by third baseman Aaron Lampinen, and they both moved up a base on a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with two outs for Fernandes. Fernandes singled again, scoring both runs to give himself four RBI on the night in his first two at-bats.

Another error – this time a pop fly in the infield that popped out of the glove of the shortstop – allowed Spencer Marenco to reach, and Shanks and Lajoie drove in the pair with a single and double, respectively, to put the Pippins up 9-4.

The Pippins used Tuesday’s game as a bullpen day, with Weston Janavs getting the start and throwing three innings. He allowed four runs (two earned) while walking three and striking out one.

Payton Robertson pitched the next three innings, keeping Highline off the scoreboard  while striking out four.

Fernandes stretched a routine single to the right field corner into a double with one out in the fifth inning, allowing him to score on a pair of base hits by Marenco and Shanks to score the 10th run of the game for Yakima Valley. The Pippins added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to boost their total to 12.

Case Matter pitched the top of the seventh for Yakima Valley, issuing a one-out walk that came around to score. He also struck out one in the inning.

Owen Wild and Kenny Johnson teamed up for the eighth and ninth innings, both proving to be unhittable for the Bears. Each struck out two in perfect innings.

The Pippins added their final three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after Molenda was hit by a pitch to start the inning and the next three batters walked to force him home. A pair of sacrifice flies by Shanks and Lajoie gave the Pippins a 15-5 lead they would hold.

The Pippins and Bears continue their series Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. on another Baseball Bingo Winning Wednesday presented by St. Joe’s Bingo.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

July 14, 2021