Wednesday, June 8, 2011
WALLA WALLA - The Sweets already have a flair for the dramatic.
Two days after winning on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, Walla Walla scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the Portland Toros, 6-4, Tuesday night at Borleske Stadium.
Trailing 4-3 entering the eighth, the Sweets started their rally nearly the same way they started it on Sunday. Kevin Hawk worked a leadoff walk and Nick Gentili was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Alex Bonczyk followed with a sacrifice bunt.
The bunt, placed down the third base line, turned into an infield single and more as the throw to first ended up down the right field line. Hawk scored to tie the game and both Gentili and Bonczyk moved into scoring position.
Kalani Brackenridge took over and ripped his second consecutive game-winning single, this time to center field, scoring Gentili.
The Sweets tacked on another a play later as Bonczyk scored from third after the Toros were unsuccessful in trying to throw out Brackenridge stealing.
The two runs was more than enough for reliever Geoff Soja. The right-hander entered the game in the fifth as the Toros were scoring four runs and allowed a single to before settling to retire eight straight.
The string was snapped in the eighth on a one-out double but Soja induced two straight ground outs and then left the tying runs on base with a game-ending strikeout in the ninth. He threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing just two hits and earned the win thanks to the Sweets rally.
For four innings, however, it didn't appear he would be needed until later. Sweets starter Jacob Overbay allowed the first two batters of the game to reach, but had an inning-ending 5-3 double play and then used a 6-4-3 double play to help him face only three batters in the second and finished the third with back-to-back strikeouts. But it all unraveled in the fifth.
After a ground out started the inning, Overbay hit Matt Zeller and then gave up three consecutive hits. The first was a single to right that moved Zeller to third, where he would eventually score on a double steal, leaping over Hawk to avoid the tag at home plate.
Ryan Matheny's single to left plated a second run and Overbay's night came to a close when Zach Holley tripled past a falling Bonczyk in center. Soja allowed Holley to score but then was lights out the rest of the way.
Walla Walla grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first as Bonczyk scored on wild pitch and added to their lead in the third on an infield error. Chance Kopacz had just moved to third after tagging on a fly ball to left and his hustle paid off as Alex Stanford's ground ball was misplayed.
The Sweets pulled within one in the sixth and nearly tied it then, but a throw from Holley kept the Toros in the lead. Brackenridge's two-out single to center bounced away from the fielder and Gentili scored all the way from first, making it 4-3.
Kopacz followed that with a single to left, but Holley's throw beat Brackenridge and Portland catcher Will Koenig held onto the ball in the ensuing crash.
Walla Walla's rally spoiled a strong outing from Portland starter Josh Saio. The crafty-lefty kept the Sweets off balance for six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He left after hitting Austin Heaps to start the seventh and reliever Jon Collier came on to get three straight ground balls to end the inning.
The top three hitters in the Sweets lineup - Bonczyk, Brackenridge and Kopacz - all had two hits and Bonczyk scored twice. Nate Douglas led the Toros with three hits.
The teams complete their two-game non-league series tonight at Borleske Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tyler Billen will get the ball for the Sweets.
Sweets 6, Toros 4
Toros 000 040 000 - 4 7 5
Sweets 101 001 03x - 6 9 2
Saio, Collier (7) and Koenig. Overbay, Soja (4) and Hawk.
Hits - Toros: Holley, Douglas 3, Bufton, Higgins, Matheny. Sweets: Bonczyk 2, Brackenridge 2, Kopacz 2, Heaps, Wentz, Stanford.