WALLA WALLA - The first one is the toughest to get.
And the Walla Walla Sweets got fourth-inning offense and clutch relief pitching in the ninth, to earn their first-ever West Coast League baseball victory with a 2-0 victory over Wenatchee here Wednesday.
"It was good to come out and get our first win," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "In wood-bat baseball, games tend to stay tight, so we'll see a lot more of these, and being able to hang on in the end was a good thing."
AppleSox starting pitcher Scott Burris took a no-hitter into the fourth before Karsten Strieby collected a one-out single for the Sweets' first hit.
The Sweets had not scored in 12 innings, but James Stanfield followed Strieby's single with a double to left center and Strieby was waved home.
Wenatchee cut Strieby down at the plate on a perfect Billy Moon (center fielder) to Nathan Williams (shortstop) to Travis Forbes (catcher) relay and the Sweets were denied.
"I was joking with their second baseman and shortstop, ‘come on, you've got to let us get our first run here," Stanfield said of the frustrating scoreless streak. "But the next batter got me in. Getting that first run kind of gets that weight off your shoulders and now we can start playing."
Curtis Dupart stepped up and dropped a single into right center and Stanfield raced home with the first-ever Sweets' run.
"It (scoring) was long overdue, in my book," Biagi said. "Ultimately, we're going to score some runs. I'm confident in our ability to swing a baseball bat. It's just getting acclimated and adjusted. I think we'll be fine."
Dupart went to second on Wenatchee's attempt to get Stanfield at the plate. Marshall Yanzik hit a shot to the right of Williams, who couldn't handle it, and Dupart came home with the second WW run and the Sweets had all they would get on this night with a 2-0 lead.
Sweets' starter Kody Young walked Clayton Eslick to open the AppleSox fifth, and Matt Comer, who collected two of the five Wenatchee hits on the game, reached on an error. With two on and no outs, J.C. Biagi summoned younger brother Brian Biagi from the bullpen.
Brian Biagi got a pop up and a 4-6-3 ground ball double play (Jordan Dreiling-Yanzick-Strieby) to end the AppleSox threat.
"Brian got out of the inning for us," manager Biagi said. "He held us where we were at."
Brian Biagi blanked the AppleSox on two hits and took the 2-0 lead to the top of the ninth.
"He has a really good two-seam fast ball," Biagi's catcher Stanfield said. "It had all the hitters out on the end of the bat. He did an awesome job."
A hit batter and a walk with no outs ended Brian Biagi's four scoreless innings and brought Austin Pentacost on in relief.
Pentacost struck out Comer, but the AppleSox pulled a double steal to get the tying run to second base with one out.
Williams hit a wicked shot off Pentacost's shin, everybody was safe, and Pentacost couldn't continue, but did get medical attention in the dugout.
The AppleSox had the bases loaded with one out.
"I have a record for that (tight finishes)," Stanfield said. "Last year at the University of Kansas, we had so many ninth inning scares that it was unreal. It's just following me around."
With no warm up in the bull pen, Chris Kearns was summoned from the bench with one out and the bases loaded.
Kearns was greeted by an old nemesis as Maxx Garrett entered the game as a pinch hitter.
"I was just sitting in the dugout," Kearns said. "He said ‘Kearns, get ready', and I said, "Alright, I'm ready to go."
Kearns got Garrett swinging for the second out.
"I got him with a curve ball," Kearns said. "I've played against him in regionals and he (Garrett) owned me. I was ready for him."
Forbes lined a Hearns' pitch to right, but Matt Hart snagged it and the Sweets evened their record at 1-1.
"It was a fastball down the middle," Hearns said. "I tried to make him put it in play and let my defense work."
The AppleSox and Sweets conclude their three game series at 1:05 p.m. today at Borleske Stadium.
Wenatchee 000 000 000 - 0 5 3
Walla Walla 000 200 00x - 2 4 2
Burris, Crawford (8) and Forbes; Young, B. Biagi (5), Pentacost (9), Kearns (9) and Stanfield.
HR - none.
Hits - Wen: Comer 2, Forbes, Eslick, Williams; WW: Strieby, Stanfield, Dupart, Hart.