WALLA WALLA - Had the Walla Walla Sweets collected three hits with runners in scoring position during their West Coast League baseball game with East Division-rival Moses Lake on Friday night at Borleske Stadium, they may have come away with their sixth win of the 2010 season.
Instead, Walla Walla managed just two safeties in 14 tries with runners at second or third base and stranded 10 on the basepaths.
The end result was a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the visiting Pirates that disappointed a partisan crowd of 1,343.
"We had plenty of opportunities," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "It's not about getting a hit. It's about getting a quality at-bat and controlling the things you can control. We didn't do that."
The Sweets left at least one runner on base in all but two innings.
"It came down to a lack of ability to drive a ball with runners in scoring position," Biagi said. "The nature of the game is tough."
Friday's defeat was Walla Walla's 11th in its last 12 games. The Sweets took a WCL-worst 5-14 record into the middle game of the three-game series Saturday night.
The Pirates improved to 8-11 with Friday's triumph.
Moses Lake took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when catcher Josh Rapacz was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The inning commenced with an Austin Shackelford single. Duncan Blades sacrificed Shackelford to second and reached base on a throwing error by Sweets' third baseman Jordan Dreiling.
Shackelford and Blades moved up a base on a wild pitch. One out later, Walla Walla starting pitcher Brian Biagi hit both Trent Johnson and Rapacz to force in Shackelford.
Any hope for a big inning went by the boards when Biagi got Nate Roberts to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Sweets equalized in the third. Kevin Kuntz led off with a single to center field and scored when Christian Ramirez grounded a double past Pirates' first baseman Bobby Lewis and down the right-field line.
Moses Lake chased Biagi in the fourth. Rapacz drew a lead-off walk, advanced to second on a Roberts bunt, and touched the dish after a Bryndon Ecklund single. Lewis followed with a hit, and that was it for Biagi.
Reliever Jacob Overbay got Walla Walla out of the frame by getting back-to-back infield pop-ups from Andrew Rodriguez and Shackelford. The clutch showing began an effective stint of 5 2/3 innings for Overbay that kept the Sweets in the game.
"He did a great job," Moses Lake manager Steve Keller said of Overbay. "He worked down in the zone. He came in and shut us down."
Walla Walla evened the score in the ninth. Kuntz doubled with one out.
Ramirez struck out, but got aboard on a passed ball that sent Kuntz to third.
Matt Comer took a first-pitch ball and Ramirez broke for second. Rapacz's throw through was cut off by Blades.
Kuntz headed home and slid across the plate as Blades' toss sailed to the backstop, allowing Ramirez to scoot to third.
But euphoria gave way to frustration moments later. Comer struck out and Marshall Yanzick grounded out to second to send the game into bonus panels.
Shackelford led off the Moses Lake 10th by driving Overbay's first delivery to center for a triple.
Chris Kerns entered to relieve Overbay and retired Blades on a 5-3 grounder before yielding an RBI double to left-center by Nick Frederick.
"We had more quality at-bats as the game went on," Keller said. "Our guys made adjustments to every pitcher they faced. It's been fun watching them progress with their confidence to compete."
James Stanfield was hit by a pitch to start Walla Walla's half of the 10th. But Karsten Strieby struck out looking, Stanfield was thrown out stealing, and Scott Gottschling grounded out to third to end the game.
Moses Lake 100 100 000 1 - 3 9 2
Walla Walla 001 000 000 0 - 2 10 2
Whitman, Johnson (7), Smith (8), Carlson (10) and Rapacz; Biagi, Overbay (4), Kerns (10) and Stanfield.
HR - none.
Hits - Moses Lake: Shackelford 2, Frederick 2, Johnson 2, Ecklund, Lewis, Rodriguez; Walla Walla: Ramirez 3, Strieby 2, Kuntz 2, Gottschling 2, Stanfield.