Despite another strong start from Cullen Kafka, the Pippins lost their third straight heartbreaker on Friday, this time a 4-3 walkoff loss to the Walla Walla Sweets.
Both starting pitchers began the day with an ERA hovering around 2 and the game lived up to its pitcher’s duel billing.
The Sweets struck first in the second. On the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the second, Ben Fariss hit a line drive solo home run over the left field wall. Kafka would recover to retire the next three batters.
In the top of the third, the Pippins offense answered. After a leadoff double by Nick DiCarlo, Cody Jefferis drove him in with a single to knot up the score. That would be the only run that the Pippins would get off of Bryce Moyle who would go five innings before the Sweets turned to their bullpen.
The long ball would strike again in the bottom of the fourth when leadoff hitter Nick Nyquist cranked a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall, giving the Sweets a 2-1 lead.
The score would hold until the sixth when the Pippins got to reliever Luke Short. After Jake Moberg lead off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch, Cole Jones drove him in with a single.
In the seventh, the Sweets would get their last run off of Kafka. Ryan Johnston hit a leadoff double and a batter later, Matt Elser knocked him in with a single. The Pippins went to the bullpen in the eighth, with Kafka going seven innings of three run ball with seven strikeouts.
The Pippins continued to rally in the eighth, loading the bases with no outs. DiCarlo then ripped a single to right field, driving in a run to once again tie the score. That would be all the Pippins could get as Ben Farris would come in and shut the door.
With the score still tied at three in the bottom of the ninth, the Sweets loaded the bases with two outs against Bryce Wooldridge. On a 0-1 pitch, Patrick Caulfield lined a single into right field for the game ending knock, sending the Pippins to their third straight loss.
The Pippins will look to end their three game skid in the second game of the series on Saturday. First pitch at 6:35.