Sweet West Coast League opener for Walla Walla

The Sweets score six third-inning runs en route to the season-opening 8-0 win over Corvallis Friday.


WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla put up a six spot in the third inning and got shutout pitching to send 1,742 Sweets fans home happy here Friday in the West Coast League baseball season opener.

The Sweets added on to that six spot and Ryan Richardson, Daniel Jewett and Drew Fittry combined to throw a six-hit shutout as Walla Walla defeated the defending Western Division champion Corvallis Knights, 8-0.

"That was a good first win for us," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "We got a great pitching effort out of the three guys that threw, and we put together a few hits offensively."

The Sweets went hitless and only sent six hitters to the plate to face Knights starter Brian Ranta in the first two innings, and came to bat in the home third locked in a scoreless dual.

University of Hawaii product Kalani Brackenridge led off the Sweets' third with the inaugural hit of the 2011 Sweets season, a solid single to right field.

Brackenridge stole second and the Sweets were off to the races.

"I was leading off the inning and my job was to get on base," Brackenridge said. "I was able to do that. (The steal) was actually a hit-and-run, but they threw the ball outside and our batter (Kevin Hawk) wasn't able to reach it, and I was able to steal the bag."

Hawk struck out, but Alex Stanford hit a slow roller to short, and Brackenridge beat the Knight attempt to get him at third; first and third, one out.

Walla Walla Community College's Alex Bonczyk got Brackenridge home with a ground out to third.

Nick Gentili reached on an error, and the next five Sweets batters got hits.

Chance Kopacz singled in one, Utah Valley's 6-foot, 220-pound Austin Heaps tripled to deep right-center to score two.

Heaps' 6-5, 235-pound teammate from Utah Valley, Goose Kallunki, doubled home Heaps.

James Campbell singled home Kallunki and Brackenridge collected his second hit of the inning before Corvallis got the illusive third out.

"Once you get going, you just have to keep building and keep producing runs. That's how you win ball games," Brackenridge said of the rally. "That was my first time getting two hits in an inning."

Corvallis would not be able to recover from the six-run, seven-hit Sweets' third inning.

"That (third inning) was big for us," Biagi said. "It was good to see guys swing at good pitches and get in some good hitters' counts. Up and down the line up, we have a pile of guys that are good baseball kids. They're very capable."

Kallunki drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, and Bonczyk's second hit of the night plated a fifth inning add on as the Sweets took an 8-0 lead after five.

On the hill, Richardson allowed only two hits over his five innings of work. Jewett struck out four in his three innings, and Fittry pitched out of a first-and-third one-out jam in the ninth to complete the shutout.

Bonczyk with three hits, Brackenridge, Stanford and Kopacz with two hits each, led the Sweets 12-hit attack.

And the defense had only one error, a ninth-inning boot.

"We're a sharp team," second baseman Brackenridge said. "Everybody is out here to work hard. We've been working all week fielding ground balls and getting used to the field. It paid off and it was a great atmosphere to play in."

The Sweets hosted the Knights in game two of a three-game weekend series Saturday.

Walla Walla 8, Corvallis 0

Corvallis 000 000 000 - 0 6 3

Walla Walla 006 110 00x - 8 12 1

Ranta, Duffin (4), Hill (7) and Bogue; Richardson, Jewett (6), Fittry (9) and Hawk.

Hits - Corvallis: Moore, Blackham 2, Fink, Alexander, Scott; Walla Walla: Brackenridge 2, Stanford 2, Kopacz 2, Heaps, Kallunki, Campbell, Bonczyk 3.


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