BEND, Ore. - With the taste of defeat still in his mouth, Walla Walla Sweets starter Ryan Richardson came back on short rest and pitched one-run ball for six innings and his Sweets teammates backed him with 13 hits in a 6-3 victory over the Bend Elks here Wednesday at Vince Genna Stadium.
Facing the Elks four days after throwing a complete-game three-hitter in a 3-2 loss against them, the right-hander twirled another brilliant game and the Sweets' offense opened up a 6-1 lead with five runs over the course of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
And just as the Sweets squelched the Elks' ninth inning rally, the Kitsap BlueJackets were finishing up a 1-0 victory over Bellingham and giving Walla Walla sole possession of second place in the West Coast League East Division standings.
Walla Walla took a 6-1 lead into the ninth, but Bend rallied off reliever Sean Santschi. Nick Wagner walked to start the inning, but Santschi struck out Taylor Noyer for the first out. He then got Cullen Hendrickson to ground to second, but the throw to second base was wide and allowed Wagner to take third.
Santschi got a pop out for the second out, but then walked the next three batters to force in two runs.
The Sweets then called on Simon Anderson, and his 0-1 pitch to Jordan Brower was chopped to first. But instead of an easy out, the ball bounced off Austin Heaps and the flip to Anderson beat Brower by a half-step to end the game.
Up until that point, it had been all Sweets. Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the sixth, Walla Walla earned some breathing room. Andrew Mendenhall doubled to start the frame and Zach Wentz followed with a single to put runners on the corners.
Heaps hit a fly to left, but Brower misjudged it, allowing Mendenhall to score and Wentz and Heaps to advance.
Chance Kopacz followed with an RBI ground out to make it 4-1.
Walla Walla got right back on the sticks in the seventh, plating two more runs. Alex Stanford picked up his third hit with a single to left and Mendenhall scored him two batters later with a two-out double to left-center.
Wentz followed that by drilling an 0-2 pitch up the middle to make it 6-1.
The Sweets pitching did the rest. Richardson used an array of off-speed pitches and well-placed fastballs to pick up his third win of the summer. Now in sole possession of second place in the WCL division, the Sweets face Bend in the rubber match at 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
Sweets 6, Elks 3
Walla Walla 100 012 200 - 6 14 1
Bend 000 010 002 - 3 6 3
Richardson, Litchfield (7), Santschi (9), Anderson (9) and Hawk. Chavez, McClung (7), Wylie (8), Christian (9) and Buchanan.
HR - none.
Hits - WW: Stanford 3, Gottschling 2, Mendenhall 2, Wentz 2, Heaps, Kallunki, Gentili, Hawk 2. Bend: Olson, Benjamin, Jr., Brower 2, Bollinger, Buchanan.