Sweets Tie Up Series With 13-4 Win

Pippins batters strike out 13 times, pitchers walk 10 batters in loss

Wednesday night’s game between the Yakima Valley Pippins and the Walla Walla Sweets will decide the series as the Sweets took game two with a 13-4 victory Tuesday night.

The Sweets scored all of their runs in just two innings, with a five-run fifth and an eight-run seventh inning in which they sent 13 batters to the plate and walked seven times in the inning.

The Pippins struck first in the third inning when Alex Fernandes forced an error in the infield with his speed, causing Colin Wetterau to struggle to field a ground ball at first. Fernandes then stole his first base of the season.

Spencer Marenco hit a high fly ball to straight-away center field, but Cameron Butler had trouble playing the ball as he raced back to the fence, letting it drop on the warning track. Fernandes, who had been waiting on second base to tag up, could only advance to third as Marenco reached second for a stand-up double.

Chaz Myers then laced a ground ball down the third base line, scoring Fernandes and taking second base when the throw went to third base. Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek drove in Marenco and Myers with a base hit up the middle to give the Pippins a 3-0 lead.

Kirby Robertson started on the mound for Yakima Valley and struck out five over four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth after getting the first out when Taylor Holder made a diving catch in left field.

Robertson walked the next batter before giving up three straight singles that scored two runs. After getting a groundout, Cameron Butler hit a three-run home run to left field to put the Sweets on top, 5-3.

Robertson’s (1-1, 4.12 ERA) day was done after completing the fifth inning, and the Pippins turned to Julian Taudin-Chabot to make his Pippins debut in the sixth. He worked a clean sixth, but had worse luck in the seventh.

After walking the first three batters of the seventh inning, Taudin-Chabot got Chris Conniff to hit a ground ball to Martin-Grudzielanek at third base, who stepped on the bag after a diving stop but did not have enough time to get Conniff at first as the first run of the inning scored.

He was pulled after giving up a base hit to Cameron Butler that scored the runner from second base. Weston Janavs then took over for Taudin-Chabot (0-0, 27.00 ERA).

Janavs walked the first batter he faced to load the bases before a sacrifice fly scored Conniff from third.

He would issue a walk to load the bases again, and Paul Myro drove in the fourth and fifth runs of the inning with a two-run base hit. Janavs (0-0, 5.68 ERA) was lifted after allowing a run on a wild pitch and walking two to load the bases a third time.

From there, the Pippins turned to Case Matter, who gave up a two-run single to Colin Wetterau before striking out Conniff to finally end the inning after eight runs had scored. Matter (0-0, 14.53 ERA) returned for the eighth and recovered from a leadoff single to strike out two and induce a flyout to allow no runs.

The Pippins added their final run in the top of the eighth, when Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek singled with one out, moved to second base on a passed ball and scored when Willie Lajoie reached on an error by Conniff at second base.

The Pippins and Sweets conclude their series Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. at Borleske Stadium as the Pippins finish up their first half play. They return home Friday for a weekend series against Bellingham.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

July 7, 2021