WALLA WALLA - The Walla Walla Sweets changed their M.O. here Saturday at sun-drenched Borleske Stadium in West Coast League baseball action, but got the desired result with a 3-1 win over Bend.
After four consecutive comeback wins, the Sweets scored two runs in the first and Joey Wagman took it from there.
Wagman, a Cal-Poly product, went the distance on the mound, his first complete game, as well as the Sweets' first complete game in their history, to pick up the 3-1 win. The win completes a three-game sweep of the West Division-leading Elks and runs the Walla Walla win streak to seven games - five in league and two non-counters.
Wagman took care of business in just over two hours as he held the Elks to four hits, one unearned run, threw 112 pitches, struck out six and walked two in running his season record to 2-0 and lowering his ERA to 0.43.
"My mentality all summer has been to go out there and get work in," Wagman said. "I've been primarily throwing two pitches - fastball and change up. That's all I threw today. You can be successful with two (pitches). Locate the fastball in and out, and the same with the changeup. You just have to keep them off balance. That (keeping them off balance) was my main goal today and (then) let my defense work behind me."
"It was awesome (catching him)," Sweets catcher Elliot Stewart said. "He was fastball-changeup the whole game. He kept them off balance and honestly, he wasn't spotting up, but he was effectively wild, which works."
The Sweets got all Wagman would need in the home first. Kevin Kuntz led off with a single, but was picked off by Elks left-handed starting pitcher Ben Guidos. Kuntz made it to second as the Elks couldn't handle the throw.
One out later, Stewart ran his hitting streak to nine games as he clanged a double off the left field wall to score Kuntz.
With two outs, Matt Comer lifted a fly to right that was lost in the cloudless and sunny sky, and fell for a double as Stewart scored for a 2-0 Sweets lead.
"I thought that (double) was going to bounce in front of him," Stewart said. "I had no idea I got all of it, but I'm glad I did. We've been down and coming back, so it was nice to get on top from the beginning."
The sun and cloudless blue sky produced Bend's only run in the fourth. Tommy Richards reached on an error, but was tagged out at third on Andy Hunter's ground ball.
With two outs, Kerry Jenkins lofted a high fly to left that Andy Matthews couldn't find and it dropped for a double as Hunter scored the only Bend run.
"It was an absolute awful sun," Wagman said. "I joked about it with Andy in the dugout as I knew he would catch everything else that came to him, and he did."
Three two-out singles in the Sweets' seventh tacked on an insurance run to give Wagman a little breathing room. Marshall Yanzick dropped one into short-left field. Adrian Williams followed by legging out a high chopper down the third base line, and Kuntz delivered Yanzick with a single to right for a 3-1 Sweets lead.
Wagman hit Chris Viegas, who had two of the four Elks hits on the game, with one out in the Elks eighth. One out later, Wagman's Cal-Poly teammate, Evan Busby, hit a shot up the middle.
"I was a little mad because I thought I could've caught (Busby's) ball in the air," Wagman said. "I look up and Adrian (Sweets second baseman Williams) is flailing and on his back and flipping it and got the out. It was an unbelievable play."
Following his head-first dive, Williams flipped to Kuntz at second to force Viegas and end the Elks eighth.
Wagman worked a perfect ninth and got Riley Tompkins looking, for his sixth strikeout, to end his gem.
"He (Wagman) was pretty much in command all day," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "He was around the dish all day. He throws his changeup in any count and locates fastballs when he needs to."
The Sweets, with their five game win streak in league play, improve to 14-21 and remain in the hunt to catch Kelowna and Moses Lake for the last playoff spot.
The Sweets return to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borleske when Kitsap visits.
"It was an excellent series," Biagi said of the Bend sweep. "We've got some things going. We're looking forward to the next series."
Walla Walla 3, Bend 1
Bend 000 100 000 - 1 4 4
Walla Walla 200 000 10x - 3 8 1
Guidos and Karraker; Wagman and Stewart.
HR - none.
Hits - Bend: Tompkins, Viegas 2, Jenkins; WW: Kuntz 2, Stewart 2, Daniel, Yanzick, Williams, Matthews.