Walla Walla's Kevin Kuntz and Wenatchee's Travis Forbes look for the call on an attempted steal in the eighth inning. Forbes went out on the play. Walla Walla lost its home opener, 7-0 to the Applesox.
In a close play at second base, Walla Walla's Kevin Kuntz (left) sweeps the throw from catcher James Stanfield to get the eighth-inning out on the attempted steal by a diving Travis Forbes of Wenatchee.
Hometown boy and starting Sweets pitcher Mike Richard delivers a strike in the early going of Tuesday's loss to Wenatchee.
Watch video of the Sweets opening day celebration below.
WALLA WALLA - The fireworks came too late for the Walla Walla Sweets in their inaugural opener in West Coast League baseball action at Borleske Stadium here Tuesday.
Wenatchee took advantage of five Walla Walla errors, and the only Sweets' fireworks came after the game in a closing aerial display, as the AppleSox opened their WCL season with a 7-0 win over the Sweets.
"It wasn't what we had in mind for the opening night," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "It was a tough night. Obviously, the errors were costly and we were never able to string anything together offensively."
DeSales graduate Michael Richard started on the mound for the Sweets and retired five of the first six AppleSox he faced. Richard and fellow AppleSox southpaw, 6-foot-10 Michael McIver, went to the third in a 0-0 battle.
Travis Forbes led off the AppleSox third and reached on an error, and the tone was set for the inning. Following catcher James Stanfield's diving catch of an attempted sacrifice bunt by Wenatchee's Marcelino Morales, Billy Moon drew a walk and the wheels came off for the Sweets.
Trent Bridges' grounder was thrown into center field, the throw to get Moon at third got away, and the AppleSox had a 2-0 lead, but the inning-to-forget wasn't over. Clayton Eslick reached on an error before Maxx Garrett delivered the only Wenatchee hit of the inning with an RBI double to culminate the AppleSox uprising.
"My job's pretty easy with these guys running in front of me," Garrett said of his RBI blow. "I was hitting with guys on base and that made it easier."
The AppleSox scored four times, the Sweets made four errors, Wenatchee had one hit and grabbed a 4-0 lead in the single inning.
Richard would work into the sixth before a Moon RBI single ended his night. Richard left with two outs in the sixth, down 6-0. Ryan Richardson came on in relief and Bridges greeted him with a run-scoring single to finish Richard's line at three earned runs on five hits, but he left down 7-0.
"Mike Richard pitched OK," Biagi said. "He kept us in the game and hung in there. Ryan Richardson came in and kept things together for us."
Richardson worked the last 10 outs, and after the Bridges' single, gave up only one more hit while blanking the AppleSox the rest of the way and striking out five.
The story, in addition to the Walla Walla errors, was Wenatchee's tall lefty.
"McIver threw very well," Biagi said. "He was able to locate fastballs in and out, and we were never able to put a string of hits together."
McIver went eight scoreless innings scattering seven hits, and allowing only two Sweets to reach third.
"It was a heck of a performance from him," McIver's catcher Garrett said. "He came with a good game plan and he really executed."
Jordan Dreiling's first-inning single marked the Sweets's first-ever base hit. Dreiling, Kevin Kuntz and Karsten Strieby finished with two hits each. Kuntz had a triple and Strieby led off the ninth with a double, but the Sweets only strung two hits together in the eighth when singles from Kuntz and Dreiling and an error loaded the bases with two outs. McIver retired the next hitter and Cody Shephard worked a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout.
The Sweets and AppleSox play at 7:05 p.m. tonight with Columbia Basin College right-hander Kody Young scheduled to start for Walla Walla.
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McIver, Shephard (9) and Garrett; Richard, Richardson (6) and Stanfield.