Power Surge Continues as Pippins Win Third Straight
YAKIMA, Wash. – The Yakima Valley Pippins had hit five home runs as of Friday night. The Pippins have now hit eight in their past four games, including two more on Tuesday night, to propel themselves to an 8-5 victory over the Bend Elks for their third straight win.
The Elks (10-12) got started right away against Pippins right-hander, Kade Woods (Spokane Falls), as their leadoff batter, Derek Chapman (Washington State), drilled the first pitch of the game over the right field fence for a solo home run. The Pippins (10-11) responded in the bottom of the frame, as Dillon Plew (Washington State) laced a two-RBI single back up the middle to plate Jonny DeLuca (Oregon), who had singled to begin the frame, and Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton), who was hit by a pitch.
After Bend came back with a run of their own in the top of the 2nd to tie the game at 2, Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s) led off the second inning with a solo home run to right that sneaked inside the foul pole, giving the Pippins a 3-2 lead.
The seesaw battle continued in the top of the 3rd, as Bend answered with two runs to retake the lead. The Pippins, not to be outdone, produced a run in the bottom of the 4th, as Cope lined a two out single into left center to plate Sordahl and knot the game at four.
Tied at 4 in the bottom of the 5th, the Pippins battled with two outs against Bend starter, Matt Strang (Linfield). First, Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois), laced a double down the right field line. Sordahl then executed a perfect bunt to give the Pippins runners on the corners with two outs. Bend then went to the bullpen to bring in a right-handed reliever, Matt Kirk (San Diego), to face the struggling Chase Wells (Seattle U), who entered the game just 6 for 36 on the season for the Pippins. Numbers did not matter to Wells, however, as he drove the first pitch he saw, an elevated fastball, over the fence in right center for a three-run go ahead home run to give the Pippins a 7-4 lead. Yakima Valley was not finished in the frame, however, as after Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) doubled down the left field line, DeLuca brought him in with a single, giving the Pippins a four run lead with a four run 5th.
The latter innings were certainly not easy for the Pippins bullpen, with left-hander, Anthony Alvarado (Columbia Basin), working his way out of multiple jams in his three innings of work, stranding four baserunners in the process and allowing only a single run in the 8th. Leading 8-5 in the 9th, the Pippins turned to Dustin Yates (Washington State) to close out the game, a decision that for a while was second guessed, as Yates proceeded to walk the bases full in the top of the 9th to bring the go-ahead run to the plate with no one out. Somehow, Yates maneuvered his way out of the ultimate jam, striking out the next three Elks batters he faced, including two of them on payoff pitches, the earn the save and secure the Pippins 8-5 victory, their third straight.
Game Notes: In his shortest start of the season so far, Woods had to throw a season high 115 pitches to get through five innings and allowed four runs on five hits with a season high five walks. Woods had solid run support, however, and struck out three while improving to 4-1, with the fourth win tied for the WCL lead as of Tuesday night. Strang, who was responsible for the baserunners on when Wells hit his three run home run in the 5th off of Kirk, took the loss, falling to 0-1. Yates, who also pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the opener against Gresham on Saturday, earned the save, his first.
With two more home runs on Tuesday, the Pippins have hit two or more home runs in three consecutive games for the first time in franchise history, and have seven over the span, with a season high three on Monday night in Gresham. The Pippins have now hit 13 home runs for the season, meaning they are more than halfway to their franchise record of 24 home runs, which they set in their inaugural season of 2014. The Pippins have hit five of their 13 home runs at Yakima County Stadium, meaning they are just two shy of tying the franchise record of long balls hit at home, which was seven in 2014.
Sordahl recorded his second three hit game of the season, tied for the most on the team with Plaia. With two hits, Wells recorded his first multi-hit game since June 13. With his single in the bottom of the 8th, Bradlee Beesley (Cal Poly-SLO), extended his team-high six game hitting streak to seven.
With the win, the Pippins have won three straight games for the first time this season. It is their first three game winning streak since July 25 to July 30 of 2016. The Pippins had four winning streaks of at least three games last season, with their longest streak being the six consecutive games they won to open the season.
Standings Look: The Pippins now sit in sole second place and three games back of the Corvallis Knights, who were shutout at home by the Victoria HarbourCats, in the WCL South Division standings. With the loss, Bend falls to 3.5 games back.
What’s Next: Game two of the series is tomorrow night. Pippins left-hander, John Fuqua (Virginia Military Institute), will make his fourth start against the Elks’ right-hander, Kyle Cantu (Morehead State), with first pitch set for 7:05 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.