Pippins Beat GreyWolves Behind 10th Inning Flurry
GRESHAM, Ore. – One out away from a 6-3 road victory in the rubber game against the Gresham GreyWolves, the tides started to turn on the Yakima Valley Pippins again. Slowly, but surely, against Pippins reliever, Taylor Dollard (Cal Poly-SLO), who had retired the first eight batters he had faced in order, Gresham mounted a rally, putting a multitude of hits together and taking advantage of mental lapses from the Pippins. After a wild bottom of the 9th, the score was tied, and the game went to a 10th inning. Rather than harking back on their 9th inning breakdown, however, the Pippins stayed the course, putting together a four-run 10th inning capped by a Lucas Denney (Seattle U) three-run home run as they held on for a 10-6 win and took the three game series from the GreyWolves on Monday night.
For the first time in the series, the Pippins (9-11) plated the game’s opening run, which came in the second inning on a Tora Otsuka (San Diego) solo home run to right field to take a 1-0 lead. The one run cushion was short lived, however, as the GreyWolves (9-15) exploded for two home runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning off of Pippins starter, Josh Tedeschi (Utah), to take a 3-1 lead.
The Pippins were able to rally for one run in each of the 3rd and 4th innings, as a Denney sacrifice fly in the 3rd brought in Bradlee Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO) who had singled earlier in the frame, and a Tyler Sandoval (Colorado Mesa) sacrifice fly in the 4th plated Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist), who doubled to begin the inning, and tied the game at 3.
Yakima Valley then regained the lead in the 6th on a Plaia RBI single up the middle which scored Otsuka, and made the score 4-3. In the top of the 7th, Sandoval gave the Pippins an insurance solo home run to left, to make the score 5-3. In the top of the 9th, after Plaia doubled to right center to leadoff the frame, he was moved over to third base by Sandoval before being driven in on an RBI groundout from Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) to give the Pippins a three-run cushion heading into the bottom of the 9th.
Dollard, who had retired the first six batters he had faced in the 7th and 8th innings in relief of Tedeschi, including striking out the side in the 8th, quickly retired the first two Gresham batters he faced in the 9th. Down to their final out, Gresham sent up a pinch hitter, Jackson Thoreson (St. Mary’s), who singled into center. After a pinch runner came on, Alec de Watteville (Sacramento State), singled as well, giving the GreyWolves runners on first and second with two outs. Mike Peabody (UC Irvine) then followed suit with a single to left, bringing in a run to make it 6-4. With runners now on first and third, and still two outs, Gabe Barthelmass (Cal Poly-SLO) hit a soft grounder to the left side of the infield that Pippins third baseman, Dillon Plew (Washington State), snatched, but then threw a ball that ended up wide of Denney’s target at first base, pulling him off the bag for an error that scored another Gresham run. After Cole Weaver (Baylor) came on to pinch run for Barthelmass, and with runners on the corners, Drew Curtis (Southern Illinois) lined a ball off the glove of Plew and down the left field line. Peabody trotted in from third for the game’s tying run, but when Weaver tried to come around and score from first, he tripped midway between third base and home plate, leaving him in a rundown that the Pippins were eventually able to take advantage of and tag him for the final out of the frame. At the end of nine innings, the score was tied at 6 and the game headed to extras.
In the top of the 10th, it did not take the Pippins long to fire the first punch. After Beesley drew a leadoff walk against Gresham reliever, Brayden Bonner (Dixie State), Plew then laid down a sacrifice bunt that Bonner handled but threw wide of his target at second base, trying to get the lead runner, giving the Pippins runners on first and second with no one out. Denney, the next hitter, then proceeded to deposit the first pitch he saw from Bonner, a low fastball, over the right field fence for a three-run go ahead home run, the third Pippins long ball of the night. The Pippins were not done in the frame, as Plaia doubled down the right field line with one out, and then stole second before coming home on a sacrifice fly to give the Pippins a four run 10th inning and a commanding 10-6 lead headed to the bottom half of the frame.
Kyle Nicol (Cal State Northridge) came on for the Pippins to close the game out and hit the first batter he faced, but settled down to retire the next three hitters in order and secure a 10-6 victory and a the first road series victory of the season for the Pippins.
Game Notes: Tedeschi pitched six strong innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out six and walking four, but did not factor in the decision. Tedeschi’s highlight of the start may have been his escape from major trouble in his last inning, the 6th, when Gresham had the bases loaded with just one out, trailing 4-3. Tedeschi was able to work around trouble and induce a popout and a groundout to end the threat. Dollard, despite blowing the save in the 9th, earned the win in his Pippins West Coast League debut. Dollard did get the start and went five innings to earn the win in the Pippins’ non-league victory over the Northwest Honkers on Friday night. Bonner, who allowed the go-ahead home run to Denney in the top of the 10th took the loss to fall to 1-3.
The Pippins hit a season high three home runs in the game, which tied a franchise record. The Pippins also hit three home runs in a win over the Klamath Falls Gems on June 14, 2014. The Pippins have now hit multiple home runs in a single game three times this season, and have done so in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history. The Pippins 11 home runs are already more than double last year’s total (five), and are just one shy of the total from the past two seasons (12). The Pippins are also nearly halfway to their franchise record for most home runs in a single season, which came in their inaugural 2014 campaign in which they hit 24. Eight of the Pippins 11 home runs have been hit on the road.
Denney’s home run in the 10th inning was his team leading third of the season. He also homered in the series opener on Saturday. Otsuka and Sandoval each hit their second home runs of the season, meaning that four Pippins have now hit two or more home runs (Denney, Otsuka, Sandoval and Beesley, who hit his second on Sunday night). For the series, the Pippins hit six home runs (one on Saturday, two on Sunday, three tonight), a season high for a three game set.
Plaia had three hits for his team leading sixth multi-hit game and became the first Pippins batter with two three-hit contests this season. For the night, Denney had four RBI, matching Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois), for the most in a single game this season.
The extra inning contest was the first of the season for the Pippins. The Pippins were 3-3 last year in extra inning games and are now 10-6 in their four year franchise history. The Pippins evened their 2017 season series record to 3-3, and the road series win was their first of 2017. Monday’s meeting was the final of six with the GreyWolves this season. The Pippins won the season series 4-2, which includes winning two of three games against Gresham at home from June 14 to 16.
With the win, the Pippins remain four games back of the Corvallis Knights in the WCL South Division standings. After the loss, Gresham falls six back of Corvallis. The Pippins have seven games remaining in their first half schedule.
What’s Next: The GreyWolves will travel to Walla Walla to begin a three game set with the Sweets tomorrow night. The Pippins return home to take on the Bend Elks in the opener to a three game series on Tuesday. Kade Woods (Spokane Falls) is set to make his fifth start for the Pippins with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. tomorrow night at Yakima County Stadium.
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.