WALLA WALLA - Elliot Stewart belted a pair of homers and three Walla Walla relievers combined for five innings of no-hit baseball to propel the Sweets past the Portland Stars 7-3 here Tuesday in non-league baseball action.
The game was a tale of two halves.
The first four innings belonged to Portland's offense and starting pitcher Tyeler Yamaguchi. The George Fox freshman held the Sweets to one hit and no runs over the first four frames, including fighting off of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning brought on by three Stars blunders behind him.
The Stars' offense, meanwhile, roughed up Sweets starter Brian Biagi for three runs on eight hits in the same span.
Momentum switched sides in the fifth.
Jacob Overbay relieved Biagi to start the fifth, setting down the side in order in the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, Stewart stepped to the plate with a runner on - Christian Ramirez via a walk, then crushed a Yamaguchi fastball over the left-field fence and past the hand-operated scoreboard. The blast - Walla Walla's second hit of the game - brought the Sweets within a run, 3-2.
Overbay returned for the sixth inning and struck out two of the four hitters he faced.
Yamaguchi set the Sweets down in order in the sixth, then was pulled for lefty Brady Miletic to start the seventh.
Militic gave up a hit in the seventh, facing the minimum three batters in the inning- Stewart was caught stealing after his third hit of the game. But Militic fell apart in the eighth.
Scott Gottschling started the Sweets rally by lining a one-out double off the Balboa Winery sign in left center field. Militic then walked pinch hitter Marshall Yanzick. Both Yanzick and Gottschling moved up 90 feet on a Militic balk a pitch later. No. 9 hitter Adrian Williams tied up the game with a diving line drive to shallow center that plated Gottschling. Williams and Yanzick moved up to second and third bases on the throw home.
Denver Chavez followed Williams with a bloop down the right field line. The ball fell just inside the chalk and a few steps in front of Stars right fielder Sam Westendorf. Yanzick scored on the hit and Williams followed home thanks to Westendorf's throwing error. Chavez was able to motor around to third on the play.
Ramirez singled home Chavez in the next at bat to bump the lead to 6-3, but ran himself into an out when he was picked off at first base.
With no one on and two outs, Stewart provided the night's second batch of fireworks by pounding a Militic changeup over the 359-foot sign in left center field, capping scoring at 7-3.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Stewart said. "You can't really try and hit home runs."
"Elliot's been very good all year," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "He's patient and he waits for that one pitch to drive. And when he gets it, he doesn't miss. He certainly didn't tonight."
Chris Kerns and Zach Clanton backed up the Sweets' five-run outburst from the mound with scoreless and hitless seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Kerns struck out the side in the seventh.
"Overbay came in threw strikes and got outs. Kerns did the same, and of course Clanton coming in at the end," Biagi said. "It was a really good effort on the bullpen's part of holding us where we were and keeping us in the game, and giving us a chance offensively to come back and finish the game like we were supposed to."
The victory was the Sweets' third straight, but does not count in the standings. All games against WCL-Portland teams are considered exhibition games and neither wins, losses, nor any statistics are recorded.
Currently, the Sweets stand at 11-21, last in the West Coast League East Division, seven-and-a-half games back of idle Wenatchee.
Stars 002 100 000 - 3 8 4
Sweets 000 020 05x - 7 9 0
Yamaguchi, Miletic (7) and Whalen; Biagi, Overbay (5), Kerns (7), Clanton (9) and Daniel.
HR - WW: Stewart 2.
Hits - Port: Capron 3, Keeker, Westendorf 2, Criscaden, Myrom; WW: Chavez, Ramirez, Stewart 4, Daniel, Gottschling, Williams.