Pippins Punch Late Run Across to Beat Bells
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Entering Saturday night, the Yakima Valley Pippins had struggled to win close games. In fact, they had dropped a tight one-run decision a night prior to the Bellingham Bells, whom they were tied with in the top of the eighth inning once again on Saturday. This time around, however, the Pippins found a way, as they used timely hitting and shutdown work from their bullpen down the stretch to beat the Bells 5-4 and force a rubber game on Sunday.
For the second night in a row, the Bells (19-16, 3-5) scored in the first inning, as they pushed a run across facing Pippins’ left-hander, Josh Tedeschi (Utah), to take a 1-0 lead. The Pippins (17-18, 4-4) responded right away, however, plating two in the top of the second inning on a Chase Wells (Seattle U) walk with the bases loaded and a Dillon Plew (Washington State) RBI groundout to take a 2-1 lead. Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) and Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) came home to score in the frame as each singled in succession with one out in the frame.
The score remained 2-1 in favor of the Pippins until the sixth inning, when Yakima Valley stretched their lead. After a Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) leadoff walk, the Pippins endured two quick outs to bring up Tyler Sandoval (Colorado Mesa) who was then hit by a pitch, giving the Pippins runners on first and second with two outs for Wells. Wells, playing in his first game since July 9, delivered for the Pippins, lining a double into right-center to plate Sordahl and stretch the lead to 3-1. On the ensuing Plew at-bat, Sandoval came home on a wild pitch to give the Pippins a two run frame and a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The Bells, refusing to go down without a fight, mounted a rally immediately in the home half of the frame, loading the bases against Tedeschi on three consecutive singles. After a strikeout, Tedeschi then walked two batters with the bases loaded, before leaving the game with the lead trimmed to 4-3. Left-hander, Pete Minella (Western Illinois), came on in relief, and retired the first batter he faced in the Bells’ Chase Illig (West Virginia), but the groundball was deep enough toward Plew at first that Austin Shenton (Florida International) could score the tying run from third.
After a scoreless seventh inning from either side, the Pippins mustered up another rally in the eighth, as Sordahl singled to center to begin the frame and was then moved over by an Ellis sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Plaia, who delivered the go-ahead hit, a single into the right-center field gap to plate Sordahl and give the Pippins a 5-4 lead. Ultimately, the Pippins loaded the bases in the frame on singles from Cope and Jonny DeLuca (Oregon), but they left the bases loaded and took the one run edge to the bottom of the ninth.
Connor White (Portland) came on for his sixth save for the Pippins and his outing began with a bumpy start, as Bellingham got a pinch-hit single from Austin Pinorini (Gonzaga), and quickly moved the tying run into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. The Pippins caught a huge break on the next at-bat, however, as Kody Mathews (Marshall) laced a single into left-center field to move Pinorini to third but was then picked off first base after taking too big of a turn around the bag. On the play, Tora Otsuka (San Diego) relayed the throw to the third baseman, Ellis, who then fired a throw to first base where Plew applied the tag for the second out. White then struckout Kyle Stowers (Stanford) to earn the save and secure the 5-4 victory for the Pippins to even the series.
Game Notes: Tedeschi started and went 5 1/3 innings while allowing four earned runs on six hits while striking out a season-high seven batters and walking three. He did not factor into the decision. Tedeschi had allowed just three hits and one run before the bottom of the sixth when he allowed three singles to begin the frame before walking in two runs. With 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, Minella earned the win to improve to 1-0. In 12 1/3 innings of work thus far for the Pippins over six appearances, Minella has allowed just one run, which came in his debut on July 1 against Kelowna, meaning he has thrown 11 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. White picked up his sixth save, which as of Saturday night, is the second most in the West Coast League. It was his second save of the road trip, as he also pitched a scoreless ninth inning against Victoria on Thursday.
With two hits tonight, Otsuka has now collected five consecutive multiple-hit games, tying Sordahl for the longest streak on the team this season. Sordahl accomplished the feat from June 27 to July 2. Wells’ double was his first extra base hit since he hit a go-ahead home run in a 7-3 win over Bend on June 27. Sordahl recorded his second triple of the season, and picked up his 11th multiple-hit game, to tie Plew for the most on the team. Lucas Denney (Seattle U), who was chosen as the Pippins’ participant for the home run derby earlier Saturday, went 0 for 5 to snap his season-long 11 game hitting streak.
With the 5-4 victory, the Pippins are now 3-6 in one-run games, while Bellingham is now 5-7 in such games.
What It Means: With the win, the Pippins are now 3.5 games back of Corvallis in the WCL second half standings. They are now tied, however, with Bend and Cowlitz for the second-best overall record in the division, which is a crucial distinction when considering that is the tiebreaker used to determine the second playoff team should Corvallis win both halves.
With the loss, Bellingham is now two games back of Wenatchee in the WCL North second half standings.
What’s Next: The rubber game is Sunday. Right-hander, Kade Woods (Spokane Falls, 4-2, 5.36 ERA), will make his team-leading eighth start for the Pippins, and his second on the road trip, after he started the opener in Victoria and allowed six first inning runs, en route to lasting just four innings, a season low. The Pippins will go up against a future UCLA Bruin for the second night in a row as Zach Pettway (1-0, 1.90 ERA) gets the nod for the Bells. Pettway, who will make his fifth start, has struck out 19 and walked just five over 19 innings of work thus far en route to being named a WCL All-Star.
First pitch is set for 3:05 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