WALLA WALLA - Solid pitching, clutch hitting and the help of a triple play led the Walla Walla Community College Warriors to a baseball sweep of the Big Bend Vikings, 2-1 and 6-5, here Wednesday afternoon.
"If we're going to stay in the hunt of the playoff race," WWCC coach Dave Meliah said, "then we are going to have to win the close ones and we did that today."
In the opener, the Warriors pieced together a one-run rally in the second inning with two outs. Three singles in a row - by Tyler Roberts, Glen Reser and Marc Garza - plated a run.
Another run in the third inning was all WWCC needed. A deep drive to center field turned into a triple for Brandon Renteria. It was followed by a ground ball off the bat of Roberts to the Vikings' shortstop, who booted it into the outfield and allowed Renteria to score to make it 2-0.
Jake Nelson started game one for the Warriors and went seven innings, with only one run charged to his name. He left in the eighth to give way to the bullpen with runners on first and second with no outs. Roberts relieved, and gave up a hit to go with a walk to the Vikings.
Next came the triple play. With the bases loaded, still nobody out and only trailing by one, the Vikings put on the suicide squeeze play.
Big Bend's Yuki Koyama popped up the bunt towards pitcher Roberts, who dove and caught it in the air. He got up, turned towards third and threw to the bag, which was then relayed to second base to catch the two runners trying to advance on the squeeze.
"We caught a huge break on the triple play," Meliah said. "We haven't caught too many breaks on the season, so it was good to see."
Roberts held down Big Bend again in the ninth to earn the save.
Nelson was credited with the win.
"Nellie has done a solid job all season," Meliah said. "He has been throwing strikes and he is funky. He is not overpowering but for whatever reason, he has got a ton of outs for us all season. He hasn't tried to do too much."
Game two was more of a slugfest than pitcher's duel, and WWCC came out on top despite two home runs (good for four RBIs) by the Vikings' Randy Button.
Walla Walla's Richie Carmichael started game two for the Warriors and lasted six and one-third innings before being pulled in favor of Nick Jordan.
Jordan inherited a runner on second base, and stranded him.
Carmichael gave up the two, two-run homers to Button before exiting and "those two home runs were about the only two bad pitches he threw all day," Meliah said.
The Vikings scratched out their fifth and final run of the game in the sixth inning. The Vikings singled and had an RBI double off the bat of Koyama.
The five runs wouldn't be enough for the Vikings to win.
The Warriors put up a single run in the second inning with a triple by Alex Bonczyk and sacrifice fly RBI by Anthony Nice.
A two-out rally in the fifth plated four runs, highlighted by a three-run homer by Reser to right field.
Renteria also had an RBI single to go with the home run.
The Warriors broke the 5-5 tie in the bottom of the eighth, with an RBI single by pinch-hitter Colby Melburn.
The bases were loaded with two outs when Melburn came up big.
"Melburn is a tough kid," Meliah said. "I have confidence in him to be productive in a situation like that."
The 6-5 lead was all the Warriors would need to win game two.
Jordan pitched into the ninth and was relieved by Austin Pentecost.
Pentecost entered with two outs needed to secure the win and a man on second base. He was able to keep the lead, with a strikeout of Button and a flyout.
Pentecost got the save and Jordan the win.
The victory makes the Warriors 9-9 in league and 17-17 overall.
Walla Walla plays a twin bill Saturday at 1 p.m. at Pendleton.
Big Bend 000 000 100 - 1 7 1
WWCC 101 000 00x - 2 10 0
Key-Darlington and Karwacki. Nelson, Roberts (8) and Sani.
HR - none.
Hits - Big Bend: T. Druffel 2, Koyama 2, Snow, Gray, Hunger. WWCC: Roberts, Reser 2, Garza 2, Nice 2, Renteria 2, Forge.
Big Bend 002 021 000 - 5 7 1
WWCC 010 040 01x - 6 6 1
Pisca, Sweeney(5), Poth (7), T. Druffel (8) and Faulk. Carmichael, Jordan (7), Pentecost (9) and McNaghten.
HR - Big Bend: Button 2. WWCC: Reser
Hits - Big Bend: T. Druffel 2, Button 2, Karwacki, Faulk, Koyama. WWCC: Renteria, Bonczyk, Roberts, Reser 2, Melburn.