WALLA WALLA - Welcome to the nine-game summer season for the Walla Walla Sweets.
The Sweets got seven innings of outstanding pitching from Kyle Anderson and scored enough runs to pull out a 3-1 win over Kelowna here Monday in West Coast League baseball action at Borleske Stadium.
The Sweets' win, coupled with Bellingham's 4-1 loss to Wenatchee, leaves the Bells and Sweets tied at 20-25 for the second and last East Division playoff berth with nine games left.
"It feels good to go out and get a win," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "It still requires a tremendous amount of focus to go out and get that second and third (win). The hope is that it all comes together here in the next week and a half and we get multiple guys comfortable at the dish."
The first inning told the story here Monday.
Victor Rasor-Thompson and Dillon Bryant led off with consecutive singles for the Falcons. Anderson, a 6-foot-2 southpaw out of Cal Poly, got a ground ball and two strikeouts to put a goose egg on the board.
In the home first, Elliot Stewart drew a one-out walk. Zach Wentz then legged out a high chopper to shortstop for a two-out infield hit.
Chance Kopacz worked a walk to load the bases, and UCLA's Brenton Allen delivered a two-out single to plate Stewart and Wentz to make it 2-0 Sweets after one stanza.
"It was a dumper in the infield that Wentz beats out," Biagi said. "That set the table. Then Brenton comes through with the bases loaded."
The Falcons had chances as Anderson stranded eight Falcons over the first five innings, including pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, but all the Falcons came away with was an unearned run in the third, as Walla Walla took a 2-1 lead to the home fifth.
"I let my defense do some work," Anderson said of pitching out of the early jams. "They had some mis-hit balls and, yep (we got out of the jams)."
The Sweets tacked on a run in the fifth following a leadoff double from the league's No. 3 hitter, Alex Stanford, who came in hitting .316.
Two outs later, Stanford was still sitting at second base. Wentz drove a clutch two-out single to right and Stanford scored to run the Sweets lead to 3-1.
Anderson took it from there. Andrew Firth singled to open the Falcons sixth, but the Sweets cut him down with a Denver Chavez-to-Stanford-to-Wentz (4-6-3) double play.
Anderson retired the next four Falcons in order and left with a 3-1 lead after seven. He scattered seven hits and struck out nine in his seven innings of work.
"Today was one of those rare days when you have all four pitches going for you," Anderson said. "I felt good and was able to mix (pitches) all night, and that really helped to keep hitters off-balance. This was my best outing of the summer. That's good, especially when it (the good outing) comes in a playoff race."
Jacob Overbay came on in relief of Anderson and worked two scoreless innings to close this one out for Anderson and the Sweets.
"We got a great outing out of Kyle," Biagi said. "He threw very well. He gave up some hits, but that's what he's going to do when he's around the plate. He uses his off-speed stuff well and got a pile of pop-ups and ground balls. He located very well tonight."
The Sweets next work for the playoff berth the hard way as they begin a six-game, two-city road trip tonight in Bend. Three games in Bend will be followed with three in Cowlitz before the Sweets wrap the regular season at home against two-time WCL defending champion Wenatchee Aug. 8-10.
"It's hard not to listen to the Bellingham scores," Anderson said of being in a playoff race. "This (win) was a momentum swinger. There's no reason we can't go on the road and win four or five."
Sweets 3, Falcons 1
Kelowna 001 000 000 - 1 9 0
Walla Walla 200 010 000 - 3 8 3
Otterman, Hermes (8) and Norris-Jones, Lee (8); Anderson, Overbay (8) and Stewart.
HR - none.
Hits - Kelowna: Rasor-Thompson 2, Bryant, Friesen 2, Firth 2, Melby, Folkinga; WW: Wentz 2, Allen, Chavez, Brackenridge, Kallunki, Stanford, Mendenhall.
Attend - 1,625.