Williams' single lifts Walla Walla Sweets past Bend Elks in 10th inning

The Sweets rally to their fourth straight come-from-behind win Friday, this time 4-3 over Bend.


WALLA WALLA - The Walla Walla Sweets were up to it again here Friday in West Coast League baseball action.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Sweets came from behind and rode Adrian Williams' walk-off, 10th-inning single to a 4-3 win over the West Division-leading Bend Elks.

Walla Walla trailed 3-0 before a three-run sixth tied the game and set the stage for Williams' winning blow.

The win marks the Sweets second consecutive win over the Elks, their sixth (fourth league) win in a row, and set the stage for the Sweets to go after a series sweep Saturday.

"We've been able to string some innings together over the course of this deal (the comeback streak)," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "We're playing well and been able to get the job done.

"We have a lot of guys pulling for each other," Biagi said of the Sweets. "As we go through the summer, it's neat to see that (team) chemistry build."

The Elks used a Stephen Halcomb single, a walk, and a fielder's choice ground ball from Adam Norton to get Halcomb to third and Norton to first in the Bend second. Halcomb scored on the backend of a double steal and the Elks grabbed a 1-0 lead.

Brian Porter singled to start the Bend third. Sweets starter Zach Clanton lost the strike zone.

Clanton walked two and hit one as the Elks built the lead to 3-0.

The Sweets, as they did Thursday in a seven-run sixth that led to a 7-6 win, struck in the home sixth.

Danny Poplawski reached on a throwing error, Williams worked a walk, and Kevin Kuntz put down a sacrifice bunt to move Poplawski and Williams to second and third.

Christian Ramirez bounced a double off the U-B sign in the right-field corner to chase Poplawski and Williams home. Elliot Stewart followed with a single to knock Ramirez home and it was 3-3 after six.

"It's incredible. The last couple of games, we've been putting up runs in the sixth inning," Williams said. "This team is really scrapping through runs. Our team keeps fighting one pitch at a time. That's all we have to do to be successful."

Clanton did not allow another Elk hit after the third inning and left after the eighth in a 3-3 tie.

Biagi also left in the eighth as he was ejected when Halcomb was hit by a pitch while appearing to attempt a bunt.

Clanton enticed a fly to center to get out of the eighth. He went eight innings, and allowed only two hits while striking out five, although he walked five and hit two.

"He was really good tonight," Biagi said of the Lewis-Clark State product (Clanton). "He's a bulldog. He got behind a lot of hitters and was able to fight back. He lives down and rarely misses up in the zone and that's the big thing that helps that guy."

Ronnie Johnson took over in relief from Clanton to open the ninth. Johnson gave up a 10th-inning single, but erased it with a doupleplay grounder. Johnson earned the win by facing just six batters in his two scoreless innings.

The Sweets went in order against lefty Richie Ochoa in the home ninth, but Scott Gottschling led off the Walla Walla 10th with a single.

Poplawski bunted Gottschling to second, and, former Whitman player and assistant coach, Bend manager Sean Kinney went to his bullpen to get righty, Joey Donofrio to face Williams.

"Coming up to the plate, they changed pitchers to a right hander," Williams said. "They wanted to put the right on right, which I knew was coming.

"First pitch, I was setting dead red, fastball down the middle" the UCLA sophomore continued. "I saw my pitch and took advantage of it. I saw it hooking (down the left field line) and was hoping it would stay fair."

Williams' drive got down inside the left field foul line, Gottschling scored the game-winner without a throw, 1,418 Sweets fans went home happy, and Williams got mobbed by his teammates.

"I've had a few (walk offs) in my day," Williams said. "But that was pretty exciting to be the one to get the walk off."

The win moved the Sweets within two-and-a-half games of the last playoff spot with 13 games left.

"There hasn't been a moment when we've talked playoffs," Biagi said. "It's about coming out and playing hard every day. If we keep playing, we have a chance."

Walla Walla 4, Bend 3

Bend 012 000 000 0 - 3 3 3

Walla Walla 000 003 000 1 - 4 8 2

Clem, Ochoa (6), Donofrio (10) and Ausbun; Clanton, Johnson (9) and Daniel.

HR - none.

Hits - Bend: Halcomb, Pointer, Collins; WW: Kuntz, Matthews, Stewart 2, Ramirez, Daniel, Gottschling, Williams.


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