BEND, Ore. – The Yakima Valley Pippins have used their 2017 West Coast League season to redefine the expression “no lead is safe.” Not only have the Pippins recovered from many deficits to win, but they have also blown their fair share of opportunities. Unfortunately, on Wednesday night, the latter was the case again, as the Pippins, who once led in the game 5-0 after four innings, ultimately let a 7-2 lead slip away as Bend put together a furious rally, including a five-run seventh inning, to earn a 9-7 comeback win and even up the series.

For the second night in a row, the Pippins (22-22, 9-8) got on the board in the first inning. After Jonny DeLuca (Oregon) began the game with a double, Tora Otsuka (San Diego) laid down a perfectly place bunt single to give the Pippins runners on the corners with no outs. Dillon Plew (Washington State) proceeded to reach on an error by the Bend first baseman, bringing in DeLuca for the game’s first run. Lucas Denney (Seattle U) then grounded out to first to plate Otsuka, before Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois) hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Plew and give the Pippins a three-run first inning.

In the third, the Pippins were at it again, this time adding to their lead via the long ball. With one out, Denney stepped in and smashed a fastball from Bend’s starter, Craig Grubbe (Western Oregon) on top of the scoreboard in right to give the Pippins a 4-0 lead. The next batter, Brad Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO), followed suit in grand fashion, hitting a solo shot over the left field fence to go back-to-back with Denney, giving the Pippins a 5-0 lead.

The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Bend (22-25, 10-10) finally broke through against Pippins’ starter, Josh Tedeschi (Utah), who entering the frame, had retired 11 of his last 12 batters faced, and had allowed just three hits. In the frame, Bend managed three hits and two runs off Tedesci, to cut the deficit to 5-2.

The Pippins did not take long to respond, as they got the two runs back immediately in the top of the sixth. Two Bend errors resulted in Beesley coming home for the first run of the frame, before a DeLuca sacrifice fly brought in Chase Wells (Seattle U) as the Pippins regained their five-run advantage at 7-2.

The Elks responded again, however, as they chipped away for two runs off of Pippins reliever Liam Herlihy (Wenatchee Valley) in the sixth inning, setting up their explosion in the seventh.

In the frame, Bend plated five runs on four hits, which were compounded by two walks from Pippins left-hander, Anthony Alvarado (Columbia Basin) and two hit batters from Dustin Yates (Washington State). The big blow in the frame came via a two-run home run from Colton Cosner (Montana State Billings) off of Alvarado, before Bend tacked on another three runs to take a 9-7 lead to the eighth.

The Pippins put the tying run aboard in the eighth and also brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but ultimately could not come through, before going down in order in the ninth as they fell by a final score of 9-7.

Game Notes: Tedeschi made his ninth start for the Pippins, and went five innings, while only allowing the two runs in the fifth. He struck out four, walked one, and scattered six hits while not factoring into the decision. Alvarado, who allowed four runs as the go-ahead run crossed for Bend in the seventh, took the loss to drop to 1-1. Bend reliever, Hunter Breault (Oregon), did not allow a run over 1 2/3 innings of work while striking out four and picked up the win to improve to 1-1. Chase Thometz (Jamestown) earned the save, his first, with a scoreless ninth.

Denney’s solo home run in the third inning was his eighth of the season, tying him for fourth most in the WCL. It was his second home run since the All-Star break, as he also homered in a win over Wenatchee on July 19. Beesley’s home run was his fifth of the season and first since July 3. Interestingly, Beesley’s last home run also came in back-to-back fashion, as he followed a Plew solo home run in the bottom of the eighth on July 3 against Kelowna with one of his own, the only other time the Pippins have gone back-to-back this season. With two more home runs, the Pippins have hit 28 for the season and 17 on the road. They have also now hit five in as many games played against the Elks.

Denney and Otsuka each collected their 11th multi-hit games with Otsuka tallying his ninth multi-hit contest in his last 13. Denney’s average is all the way up to .349, good for fifth in the WCL while Otsuka is now at a season-best .330, including a .410 clip so far in July (25 for 61) after hitting just .224 (11 for 49) in June.

What It Means: The win was Bend’s first in five meetings against Yakima Valley this season. With the win, Bend is now 3.5 games back of Cowlitz in the WCL South second half standings, as the Black Bears lost their second in a row.

With the loss, the Pippins remain three games back.

What’s Next: The rubber game of the series is Thursday night. Pippins right-hander, Kade Woods (Spokane Falls CC, 4-3, 6.49 ERA), will make his WCL-leading tenth start against Bend right-hander, Kris Jackson (Corban University, 4-3, 2.70 ERA), who ranks fourth among qualified WCL pitchers in ERA. Woods bounced back from his disappointing two-inning outing in Bellingham on July 16 by going 5 1/3 innings last time out against Corvallis on July 22, as he tries to rediscovered his early-season form, when over his first four starts, he held a 3-1 record with a 3.77 ERA. Woods has not gone six innings in a start since June 21 when he went seven against Walla Walla.

First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. at Vince Genna Stadium.

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