Pippins Walk Things Off in Opener Against Wenatchee

Wenatchee errors help Pippins open series with win, clinch second half title

The Yakima Valley Pippins are North Division champions in both halves of the 2021 West Coast League regular season, the first time they have accomplished the feat in franchise history.

The Pippins secured the second half title with a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth inning against the visiting Wenatchee AppleSox, benefiting from the Bellingham Bells getting walked off in the bottom of the 11th inning in Cowlitz.

After the AppleSox tied the game with two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Pippins put runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom half after Sam Olsson walked and went to third on a single by Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek.

Martin-Grudzielanek took a large lead at first and took off for second base, drawing second baseman Jackson Van De Brake up the middle. Blake Dickman put a fastball from Wenatchee reliever Tyler Chipman on the ground to the left of Van De Brake, forcing him to reverse momentum, but he muffed the ball and Olsson scored as the ball rolled into right field.

Wenatchee had scored the first run of the game after Michael O’Hara led off the game with a double, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout.

The Pippins answered in the bottom half, as Willie Lajoie tied the game with an RBI double off the right field wall.

The Pippins took advantage of two Wenatchee errors and three walks from starter Cameron Liss to add four more runs and take a 5-1 lead in the third inning. They would add a run in the fifth while Wenatchee cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth and one in the sixth inning.

Kirby Robertson started on the mound for the Pippins and allowed three runs in five innings. He kept the AppleSox to five hits but walked three to just one strikeout, and did not receive a decision.

Julian Taudin-Chabot was the first reliever out of the bullpen for Yakima Valley. He allowed the fourth Wenatchee run in the sixth inning after allowing a single to Luc Stuka, who stole second base and scored on a base hit by Enzo Apodaca. 

Olsson caught Apodaca stealing second base to end the threat in the sixth, and Taudin-Chabot worked around a single in the seventh for a scoreless inning.

Peyton Stumbo was called upon to pitch the final two innings in what would have been a save situation, trying to protect a 6-4 lead. He worked around a double in the eighth to keep Wenatchee off the scoreboard.

After the Pippins scored their sixth run in the fifth inning, Wenatchee turned to Chipman, who went on to retire the first 13 batters he faced, nine of them via strikeouts.

In the top of the ninth inning, Collin Villegas reached on a throwing error by Connor Coballes and Stumbo walked Tino Bethancourt and A.J. Guerrero to load the bases with one out. Van De Brake drove in Villegas with a sacrifice fly to left field to make it a one-run game, and Bethancourt scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

Olsson was the first batter to reach against Chipman after he had struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning. Martin-Grudzielanek’s single bounced up the middle and took an awkward hop, continuing into centerfield past the shortstop without disruption.

The Pippins and AppleSox will continue their series Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. on the final Baseball Bingo Winning Wednesday of the season, presented by St. Joe’s Bingo. Tickets are available for Wednesday’s game and Fan Appreciation Night Thursday at PippinsTickets.com.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

August 11, 2021