Plante's eighth-inning sacrifice fly breaks tie
The Yakima Valley Pippins earned their 20th West Coast League victory in a 6-5 nail-biter in game two of a home series against the Bend Elks.
The Pippins (20-12, 5-3 in the second half) remain on top of the North Division in the second half while the Elks (12-17, 2-3) sank further in the South, now 3.5 games behind the Ridgefield Raptors.
Austin Plante was the hero Wednesday, lifting a sacrifice fly to the right field corner to score Taylor Holder and give the Pippins a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Peyton Stumbo started on the mound for the Pippins and ran into some early trouble. He walked Gavin Rork to start the game, and Bryce Boettcher moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Greg Fuchs doubled to score Rork and Fuchs scored on a base hit by Collin Montez to give the Elks a 2-0 lead.
Turner Thompson started for Bend and struck out two in a 1-2-3 first inning, but the Pippins got to him in the second inning.
Noah Williamson and Michael Carpentier Jr. led off the inning with singles, and Mason Marenco hit a grounder up the middle that got through the infield and scored the two runs to tie the game.
In the third inning, Spencer Marenco led off with a single and Chaz Myers walked to put runners on first and second. Williamson ripped a hard grounder down the third base line and into the left field corner for a double, scoring Marenco.
Carpentier Jr. broke his bat on what ended up being a slow roller to the shortstop Boettcher, who rushed his throw and short-hopped the first baseman, who wasn’t able to catch it. The ball went to the fence, and both Myers and Williamson scored on the play to give the Pippins a 5-2 lead.
Thompson lasted four innings for the Elks, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking two. He gave way in the fifth to Charlie Adamson, who allowed a single to Mason Marenco but otherwise kept the Pippins off the scoreboard.
Stumbo finished his day after five innings having struck out a season-high eight batters and allowing just the two runs. He left with a 5-2 lead.
Payton Robertson came on to pitch the sixth inning and immediately fell into trouble after a leadoff walk and double put runners on second and third base with no outs. Gavin Rork singled to drive in the first run of the inning. Robertson got Boettcher to fly out to Willie Lajoie for the first out, but another walk loaded the bases.
Chase Matheny tied the game with a two-run single that scored Sam Linscott and Rork.
Adamson came back out for the sixth, but was removed after walking Austin Plante and Corey Jarrell to start the inning. Gabe Smith entered and got the Elks out of the jam.
Julian Taudin-Chabot pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Pippins, facing the minimum while striking out three to preserve the tie.
Ben Ferrer pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for the Elks before the Pippins got to him in the eighth. Holder led off the inning with a single to right. He tried to steal second, and Elks catcher Omar Velos’ throw skipped into center field, allowing him to take third with Plante at the plate.
Taudin-Chabot (1-0, 10.80 ERA) wound up with the win, and gave way to Landon Schirer in the ninth, who earned his sixth save of the season, which now leads the WCL. This was the first three-out save for Schirer (0-0, 0.81 ERA), who had pitched the final two innings in each of his other five save chances.
The Pippins look for their second WCL series sweep and fourth overall of the season in Thursday night’s series finale before heading on the road to Wenatchee Friday.