Pippins’ 9th Inning Rally Falls Short Against Bells
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Down 4-3 to the Bellingham Bells entering the top of the ninth inning on Friday night, the task at hand for the Yakima Valley Pippins seemed reasonable. By plating a run the Pippins could force extra innings by recording three outs in the bottom of the frame. The Pippins did themselves no favors, however, after recording two quick outs. Still, the Yakima Valley mounted a two-out rally, and loaded the bases for Bradlee Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) to try to tie the game or give the Pippins the lead. Ultimately, it was not to be for the Pippins, however, as Beesley flew out to deep left-center field to end the game as the Bells took game one of the series 4-3.
The Bells (19-15, 3-4) started fast against Pippins’ right-hander, A.J. Landis (Colorado Mesa), as they plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning including an Austin Pinorini (Gonzaga) solo home run, to take a 2-0 lead.
The Pippins (16-18, 3-4) answered with a run of their own in the top of the second inning, as Dustin Yates (Washington State) doubled home Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton), who had began the frame with a single. In the top of the third, the Pippins were at it again, tying the game on a wild pitch which enabled Dillon Plew (Washington State) to score from third and make it 2-2.
Both teams produced scoreless frames until the bottom of the sixth, when the Bells once again used the long ball to take the lead, this time doing so on a Kyle Stowers (Stanford) opposite field home run to give Bellingham a 3-2 advantage.
With their offense sluggish and the game teetering, the Pippins got production from a familiar source, Lucas Denney (Seattle U). After two quick groundouts in the frame, Denney wasted no time in drilled a line drive over the right field fence to tie the game at 3, stunning the home crowd.
Bellingham had an answer, however, as they played small ball in the bottom of the eighth to manufacture the go-ahead run on a perfectly executed suicide-squeeze.
Trailing 4-3 entering the top of the ninth, Yates struck out and Tyler Bosetti (Nevada) flew out to begin the frame against Bellingham reliever, Luke Manuel (New Mexico JC). Down to their final out, the Pippins mounted a rally, as Plew and Tora Otsuka (San Dieo) laced hard singles up the middle to give the Pippins first and second with two outs, before Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) walked to load the bases for Beesley.
Beesley, who had been 0 for 4 entering the at-bat hit a deep fly ball to left-center, but Shane Hanon (Marshall) was able to easily track it down for Bellingham to preserve the 4-3 in the series opener.
Game Notes: Landis gave the Pippins a quality start over six innings, allowing three runs (two earned), but recorded only a single strikeout and allowed two home runs. It is the fourth consecutive start he has allowed a home run and he is now tied for the most home runs allowed in the WCL with five. Will Adair (Cal Poly-SLO), who made his second appearance for the Pippins, took the loss after allowing the go-ahead run in the eight inning. Bellingham reliever, Zach Grech (Stanford), earned his first win of the season over two innings of work, while Manuel earned his fourth save.
Denney’s home run was his sixth of the season, which put him in a tie for the fourth-most in the WCL. He has now hit all six of his home runs on the road. With two home runs on Wednesday, Denney also became the first Pippins batter with a multi-home run game since Vince Fernandez did so on August 9, 2014 against Wenatchee. The Pippins have now hit 21 home runs as a team, just three shy of their franchise record of 24, set in their inaugural season of 2014.
Otsuka produced his fourth consecutive multi-hit game, and is now 10 for his last 14 after going 8 for 12 in the Victoria series. His four consecutive multi-hit games are just one shy of Steve Sordahl’s mark of five, set from June 27 to July 2. Otsuka, who began the season 2 for 19, is now hitting .288.
What It Means: With the win, Bellingham is now 1.5 games back of Victoria in the WCL North second half standings. With the loss, the Pippins are three games back of Cowlitz in the WCL South second half standings.
What’s Next: Game two of the series is Saturday night. Left-hander, Josh Tedeschi (Utah, 1-3, 5.17 ERA), will make his seventh start for the Pippins against Bellingham right-hander, Holden Powell (UCLA, 4-2, 2.73 ERA), who will also make his seventh start. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. from 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