Pippins Storm Back, But Fall Short in Opener
YAKIMA – The scene was set for a fourth consecutive West Coast League season-opening win for the Yakima Valley Pippins. They had dug themselves out of a 3-0 deficit, and then had inched their way back from 5-2 to take a 6-5 lead into the seventh inning. Yet, when push came to shove, it was the Victoria HarbourCats who made the crucial plays en route to a 7-6 win to spoil the Pippins season opener at Yakima County Stadium on Friday night.
The HarbourCats (2-0) got their offense started early against Pippins starter Kyle Nicol (Cal State Northridge), scoring twice in the first inning and tacking on another run in the second. The Pippins (0-1), quiet through the first two frames against Victoria starter Colin Ashworth (Hawaii), finally came to life in their half of the third, cutting the deficit to one on an RBI double from Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) and an RBI groundout from Dillon Plew (Washington State).
The HarbourCats responded right away to reclaim their three-run edge, with two more runs in the fourth4 inning off singles from Harry Shipley (Purdue) and Noah Prewett (San Diego).
Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom half of the fourth, the Pippins offense erupted. Dustin Yates (Washington State) began the frame with a single before being driven in by a Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) RBI triple. Michael Wyatt (Columbia Basin) followed with an RBI single to plate Sordahl and then Connor White (Columbia Basin) gave the Pippins their first lead of the game with a two-run double that nearly cleared the fence down the right field line.
Leading 6-5 entering the seventh, it seemed that the Pippins were in control of the game. The HarbourCats, however, who had scored 11 runs a night prior in their season-opening win over the Port Angeles Lefties and tallied 11 hits on the night were not deterred, retaking the lead in the top half on the strength of a two-run single from Ethan Fox (Douglas College) which proved to be the difference.
The Pippins threatened with a few baserunners in the eighth, and Plew reached as the potential tying run in the ninth with a single, but no magic was to be found at the end of a 7-6 defeat.
Game Notes: The meeting was the 10th all time between Victoria and Yakima Valley with the two teams now 5-5 all time against one another. The win was the first for Victoria at Yakima County Stadium. They had previously been 0-3 courtesy of a sweep in 2014. The loss was the first season-opening loss for the Pippins in franchise history. In 2014, they opened their inaugural season by knocking off Wenatchee at home and followed suit in 2015 against Klamath Falls. Last year, the Pippins opened for the first time on the road and won at Wenatchee.
The Offense: The Pippins were led offensively by Plew, who tallied a three hit night with an RBI. Sordahl and Wyatt also had multi-hit games for the Pippins, who tallied 11 hits on the night to match Victoria. Plaia and White both had RBI doubles and Dustin Yates (Washington State) and Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) each recorded hits for the Pippins.
The Pitching: Nicol started the game and lasted four inning while allowing five runs, three of which were earned, while scattering seven hits. He struck out three and walked three. Josh Tedeschi (Utah) relieved Nicol with two outs in the top of the 4th and retired the first eight batters that he faced before Fox broke through for Victoria with the go-ahead two-run single in the 7th. Matt Driver (Yakima Valley CC) and Chris Dalto (Central Washington), also pitched in the 9th for the Pippins.
What’s Next: The Pippins and HarbourCats will continue their three-game series on Saturday night at Yakima County Stadium. Kade Woods (Spokane Falls CC) is slated to go for the Pippins against Isaac Mullins (Washington State) for the HarbourCats with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.
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.