Dollard Delivers as Pippins Take Series in Victoria
VICTORIA, B.C. – After losing a 13-10 high-scoring affair on Thursday, in which their starter lasted just three innings, and after having their starter go just four innings on Tuesday despite a 12-6 win, the Yakima Valley Pippins were desperate for a quality start in the rubber game of their series with the Victoria HarbourCats. Taylor Dollard (Cal Poly-SLO) answered the bell and then some, giving the Pippins a quality start over six plus innings of work, while the Pippins offense did just enough, as Yakima Valley produced a 6-3 win to take the road series from Victoria and move back to within a game of .500.
Facing Victoria’s crafty left-hander, Jack Owen (Auburn), the Pippins (16-17, 3-3) got off to a slow start, as they produced only a single hit in the first two innings while Owen struck out five in collecting his first six outs. Dollard countered against the HarbourCats (20-17, 6-4), however, producing a pair of scoreless frames heading into the third.
It was then that the Pippins manufactured the first run of the game on a Bradlee Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) groundout which scored Dillon Plew (Washington State) to give the Pippins a 1-0 lead.
After Victoria came back to tie the game with a run off Dollard in the home half of the fourth, the Pippins regained the lead in the top of the fifth, as Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) drove in Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) with an RBI triple off the right field wall to make it 2-1. In the sixth, the Pippins were at it again, as after Lucas Denney (Seattle U) and Tora Otsuka (San Diego) reached base to begin the frame, Tyler Sandoval (Colorado Mesa) singled to center to plate Denney and give the Pippins a two run advantage. Tyler Bosetti (Nevada) later scored on a wild pitch, giving the Pippins a two run frame and a 4-1 advantage heading to the bottom of the sixth.
As they had done all series long, the HarbourCats immediately countered with a Hunter Vansau (Mississippi State) two-run home run to make it a one run game at 4-3.
With the game teetering after Dollard’s exit in the seventh with one out, the Pippins bullpen, which had been shaky all season long, was rock solid, as Liam Herlihy (Wenatchee Valley CC) and Pete Minella (Western Illinois) combined to throw a little more than an inning of scoreless ball with only a single hit allowed, maintaining the Pippins’ one-run lead until the top of the ninth.
It was there that leading 4-3 and looking for insurance, the Pippins rallied again, as the first two batters in the frame, DeLuca and Beesley, reached on singles. After a Denney groundout which moved over the runners to second and third with one out, Otsuka, who had a 3 for 3 night going to that point, delivered again, this time lacing a single to right field over the right side of the infield that had moved in to prevent a run from scoring, to give the Pippins two more runs and some breathing room with a 6-3 lead.
Connor White (Columbia Basin) shut the door by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to pick up the save and preserve the Pippins’ series win.
Game Notes: Dollard (4-0) matched Kade Woods (4-2) for the most wins on the Pippins. Dollard has made just two starts while Woods made his seventh on Tuesday night. White’s save was his fifth of the season, which as of Thursday, was tied for the third most in the West Coast League. On Monday, White was the only Pippins pitcher to be named a West Coast League All-Star, and will be one of six representatives in the game from Yakima Valley. Owen (3-1) took his first loss of the season. He had entered the game having allowed three total runs over the course of his first four starts for Victoria, and held a 1.06 ERA entering the game. He did strike out seven Pippins to bring his total to 34 for the season, good for fifth in the WCL as of Thursday, but he had to work hard to do so, throwing 103 pitches to get through six innings.
Otsuka’s four hits gave him eight hits in 12 at-bats for a series, tying Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) for the most hits by a Pippins batter in a three-game series this season. Sordahl collected eight in the Pippins’ three-game set from June 27 to June 29 against Bend. Otsuka also became the third Pippins batter to collect four hits in a game joining Denney, who did it in Wednesday’s loss, and Plew, who had four hits on June 28 in a win over Bend. It was a breakout series for Otsuka, who also drove in four runs in the three games, after he had started the season just two for his first 19 with three runs batted in.
The Pippins tallied 41 hits over the course of the three games, a huge improvement from the 17 they totaled in their previous home series loss to Cowlitz. The 41 hits in the three game series were their second most only to the 43 they produced in their sweep of the Bend Elks from June 27 to 29. The Pippins also scored first in all three games of the series, a rarity this season considering they entered the series have scored first just ten times in their first 30 contests.
Tidbits: The Pippins are now 3-3 in rubber games this season including a 2-0 mark on the road. The Pippins are now 13-4 when they outhit their opponents and 12-6 when collecting more than ten hits. Yakima Valley is now 12-10 in games decided by three runs or less.
What It Means: With the win, the Pippins are now 2.5 games back of the idle Corvallis Knight in the WCL South second half standings. More importantly, the Pippins keep pace with the red-hot Cowlitz Black Bears, who won their fourth game in a row. Both teams sit at 16-17 overall, a crucial note considering if Corvallis wins both the first and second half, the next best overall record will clinch a playoff berth.
With the loss, Victoria is still a game clear of Wenatchee for first place in the WCL North second half standings.
What’s Next: Victoria will have a pair of non-league games before they play a series in Bellingham after the all-star break. The Pippins conclude their six-game road trip with the start of a three-game set against Bellingham tomorrow night. A.J. Landis (Colorado Mesa, 1-3, 4.93 ERA) will make his seventh start for the Pippins with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. on Friday night at Joe Martin Field.
ABOUT THE PIPPINS: The Yakima Valley Pippins compete in the West Coast League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues. The Pippins play their home games at Yakima County Stadium (“The Orchard”) in Yakima, Washington. After winning 96 games during their first three seasons in the WCL, the Pippins set the mark as the winningest WCL expansion team after three years. Yakima County Stadium will play host to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game, along with an extensive 31-game home season for Year No. 4 of Pippins’ Baseball in 2017. Read more online at PippinsBaseball.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with #ThatWasAwesome