Falcons’ Firepower too Much for Pippins
YAKIMA, Wash. – The Yakima Valley Pippins entered Saturday night’s game against the Kelowna Falcons riding a five game winning streak, and had seemingly brushed any memory of being swept in Kelowna to the backburner. After all, the calendar had turned to July, and this Pippins team had been much different than the one that was swept for just the second time in franchise history a few weeks ago. Yet, after the final out had been recorded, the result was no different than the two teams’ first three matchups at Elks Stadium, as Kelowna overpowered the Pippins, both at the plate and on the mound, en route to an 11-5 win at Yakima County Stadium as the Pippins’ season-long five game winning streak came to an end.
In the top of the 3rd inning, Kelowna (16-9) got the scoring started on a Taylor Wright (Maryland) three-run home run off of Pippins’ starter, A.J. Landis (Colorado Mesa). Wright delivered again in the top of the 5th, as his RBI single stretched the Falcons’ lead to 4-0.
The Pippins (12-12) finally got on the board in the bottom of the frame, as Lucas Denney (Seattle U) doubled, and then came around to score on a wild pitch to make it a 4-1 game. In the 6th, Yakima Valley was at it again, this time using a Dillon Plew (Washington State) RBI single to plate Tyler Bosetti (Nevada) who had singled to begin the frame, which halved the deficit to 4-2. Kelowna, who seemingly had every answer to a Pippins rally, responded with four runs in the 7th inning to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 8th, however, the Pippins rallied, as Bosetti and Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) hit consecutive singles to begin the frame. After a Tora Otsuka (San Diego) groundout scored Bosetti, Plew drove in Sordahl with another RBI single to once again cut the lead in half at 8-4. Plew eventually came around to score on a wild pitch to make it a three run game heading to the 9th.
Trying to maintain a three run lead, the Pippins brought on hard-throwing reliever, Connor White (Columbia Basin), but White fell into a jam, loading the bases with two outs after walking two and hitting another Kelowna batter. Two RBI hits later and Kelowna had themselves a three-run frame and an 11-5 lead headed to the bottom of the 9th, which turned out to be the final score.
Game Notes: Landis went six innings and allowed seven runs (four earned) on nine hits with four strikeouts, two walks, and two hit batters, en route to take the loss to fall to 1-2. Kelowna right-hander, Kade Mechals (Western Oregon), who held the Pippins scoreless over eight innings and scattered just four hits en route to a win on June 18 did much of the same on Saturday, as he went seven innings and allowed just two runs on five hits, while striking out eight and walking none. In his 15 innings pitched over two starts against the Pippins, Mechals has collected 13 strikeouts to just one walk, and allowed just two runs on nine hits. He improved to 3-0, and has now struckout 24 and walked just three batters for the season.
With two more hits and four RBI against the Pippins tonight, Wright is now 8-14 against the Pippins in four games this season with a home run and nine RBI. His home run in the 3rd inning was his sixth of the season, one behind the seven hit by the WCL leader, Evan Johnson of Wenatchee. With two hits, Sordahl collected his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to seven games. With two more RBI tonight, Plew, who drove in six runs in the three games against Bend, has now driven in eight runs over his past four games. Counting last night’s non-league contest, where he drove in six runs, Plew has driven in 14 runs in his past five games played.
Standings Look: With the Pippins’ loss and their 3-2 win over Gresham on Saturday, the Corvallis Knights clinched the first half in the WCL South Division. They currently sit at 16-10 with one game remaining in the half while the Pippins, who were the only team with a chance to catch them, now sit at 12-12 with three games to play. The Pippins are still two games clear in 2nd place in the standings.
With the win, Kelowna maintained a one game lead over the Walla Walla Sweets in the WCL North. Walla Walla still has four games to play while Kelowna only has the remaining two with the Pippins. At 16-9, Kelowna has the best record in the West Coast League. Kelowna has beaten the Pippins all four times the two have played this season.
What’s Next: Game two of the series is Sunday night. A pair of left-handers will face off as Josh Tedeschi (Utah) will make his fifth start for the Pippins. Tedeschi limited Kelowna to one run on six hits over seven innings of work in his start on June 17, but the Pippins lost the game, as they blew a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. Tedeschi will face off against Kelowna’s Niall Windeler (U of British Columbia), who will make his sixth start, and whose ERA ranks as the fourth lowest in the WCL among qualified pitchers, at 2.31.
First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. 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.