Quality start from Frieders helps Pippins to ninth-straight victory
The Yakima Valley Pippins opened a three-game series against the Cascade League’s showcase team Saturday with a 9-3 victory.
The team benefited from a quality start by Tyler Frieders as well as timely hits from the bottom of their lineup, including a 2-for-2 debut for Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek.
The Pippins struck first in the bottom of the second inning, led off by a Mason Marenco double. Marenco moved to third on a fly out by Sam Olsson and scored on a groundout to first by Michael Carpentier Jr. to give the Pippins a 1-0 lead.
The showcase team responded in the third inning after Frieders walked his first batter of the game and gave up his first hit to start the inning. Willie Lajoie misplayed a hard-hit ground ball that loaded the bases before the lead runner scored on a ground out by Aaron Barber. From there, Frieders would collect himself, striking out Michael Ball and inducing a groundout to prevent further damage.
Eric Luchies led off the top of the fourth inning with a base hit, but Carpentier Jr. picked him off after Zane Skanski struck out swinging for a quick two outs and a momentum change in the inning. Justin Stransky followed with a lineout to Noah Williamson in left field to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sam Olsson reached on an error by Luchies at first when the sun prevented him from catching a throw from the infield on a potential groundout.
Carpentier Jr. would walk and Martin Grudzielanek walked for the second time in the game to load the bases for Alex Shanks, who doubled home a pair of runs. Chase Graves then walked to load the bases again, and each runner advanced on a passed ball to score a third run. Connor Coballes walked for his third time to load the bases yet again, and Willie Lajoie singled to score the fourth and fifth runs of the inning.
The Cascade league’s showcase team then turned to reliever Connor Wilson, who promptly escaped the jam and kept the Pippins off the board until the seventh while his offense added runs in the fifth and seventh to cut the lead to 6-3.
Wilson earned two quick strikeouts, but then walked Olsson, and the inning would turn chaotic from there. Carpentier Jr. hit a chopper to second base, but Barber had to make the play on the run and let the ball slip under his glove.
Olsson immediately took off for third base, and Carpentier Jr. tried to stretch his legs as the ball trickled into right field. The throw went to second, where Carpentier Jr. slid under the tag, and Olsson was waved around to score on a close play at the plate before running into the home plate umpire.
Martin-Grudzielanek followed with his first RBI with the Pippins when he doubled home Carpentier Jr. from second base. He then scored his second run of the night thanks to a Shanks base hit.
The Pippins benefited from one-inning outings from Case Matter, Payton Robertson and Kenny Johnson to shut down the Cascade offense the rest of the way and take home a 9-3 victory.
The two teams will meet again Sunday for Father’s Day, with first pitch at 6:05 p.m.