WALLA WALLA - Timely hitting by the opponent and inopportune miscues resulted in a pair of seven-inning setbacks for the Walla Walla Sweets during West Coast League baseball action Sunday at Borleske Stadium.
Visiting Cowlitz scored all but two of its runs on the day with two outs while posting 5-3 and 9-2 triumphs - victories that evened the Black Bears' record at 4-4.
Walla Walla will begin a nine-game road trip in Bend on Tuesday with a mark of 4-5.
Sunday's twin bill was scheduled after Saturday night's game was rained out.
The Sweets drew first blood in Sunday's opener via the long ball. Former Walla Walla Community College product Andy Matthews led off the second inning with a five-pitch walk and catcher Elliot Stewart followed by driving an 0-2 pitch from Cowlitz starting pitcher Richi Sandoval over the left-field wall.
The blast was Walla Walla's first home run of the season.
It stayed 2-0 until the fourth when the Black Bears tallied five times. Ryan Sheeks tied the score at 2-2 with a two-out, bases-loaded single to left that chased Sweets' starter Mike Richard.
"I told him before that at-bat, ‘Take a good swing,'" Cowlitz manager Bryson LeBlanc said. "I was very confident. He's been swinging it well."
Walla Walla reliever Chris Kerns walked Jamison Rowe to reload the sacks and Jordan Fox capped the Cowlitz rally with a bases-clearing triple into the left-center alley.
The Sweets scored their final run in the seventh. With runners at second and third and one out, Marshall Vanzick lifted a sacrifice fly to left that Fox caught on the warning track.
Cowlitz reliever Kevin Bosson fanned Karsten Strieby looking for the final out of the game.
The contest was a frustrating one for Walla Walla. The Sweets stranded seven baserunners and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"We've struggled with that in some of our wins," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "It's a matter of finding guys who can drive runs in."
Both teams picked up runs in their initial at-bats of game two. The Black Bears plated an unearned run, thanks in part to two Walla Walla errors, and the Sweets equalized on a Scott Gottschling sacrifice fly.
Cowlitz put up single runs in the third and fourth innings on RBI hits by Jason Mahood and Sheeks, respectively.
The Sweets added a run in their half of the fourth before the Black Bears got that one back in the fifth and padded their 4-2 lead with five runs in the seventh.
Clark hit a two-run double while Sheeks and Fox contributed run-scoring singles in the final frame. Cowlitz collected four hits in the inning and benefited from three Walla Walla snafus.
"Give credit to them," Biagi said. "They played good baseball all day.
"They did a great job with that," Biagi said of the Black Bears' two-out hitting. "They had quality (approaches) with two strikes. Part of it was our inability to make a pitch.
"It's going to be a good test for us," Biagi said of the upcoming road trip that consists of three-games sets in Bend, Kitsap and Bellingham. "Obviously, you'd like to go on trips like that upbeat. We're going to have to bear down and play quality baseball."
Cowlitz 000 500 0 - 5 9 2
Walla Walla 020 000 1 - 3 8 2
Sandoval, Bosson (5) and Clark; Richard, Kerns (4) and Stewart.
HR - Walla Walla: Stewart.
Hits - Cowlitz: Clark 2, Miller 2, Hoo 2, McLagan, Sheeks, Fox, ; Walla Walla: Ramirez 2, Yanzick, Stewart, Matthews, Chavez, Strieby, Kuntz.
Cowlitz 101 110 5 - 9 13 2
Walla Walla 100 100 0 - 2 6 5
Pulitano, Petit (5), Garcia (7) and Miller, Clark (5); Overbay, Richardson (7) and Daniel.
HR - none.
Hits - Cowlitz: Sheeks 3, Fox 2, Turay 2, Miller 2, Mahood, Satherlie, Clark, Bily; Walla Walla: Kuntz 2, Strieby, Daniel, Ramirez, Gottschling.