WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla's Chance Kopacz got a second chance here Tuesday in West Coast League baseball action.
The former Walla Walla Community College Warrior made the most of his second shot and delivered a walkoff single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Sweets a 2-1 win over Wenatchee.
The Sweets and AppleSox went to the home eighth deadlocked at 1-1. The WCL's leading hitter and new single-season hit record holder, Alex Stanford, led off with a double, his league-record 66th hit.
Scott Gottschling followed and lined a single to right, but hit it so hard that Stanford was held at third. One out later, Zach Wentz was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring Kopacz to the plate.
Kopacz took a called third strike, and Austin Heaps went down swinging to send the game to the ninth still deadlocked at 1.
Both teams failed to score in the ninth. Sweets pitchers seemed to be in jams all night, and 10th-inning reliever Simon Anderson continued the trend as he pitched out of another.
Brock Gates led off for the AppleSox with a single and was balked to second. Andrew Daniel sacrificed Gates to third. With the go-ahead run at third, Anderson got a strikeout and a fly to center to keep it at 1-1 going to the home 10th.
Andrew Mendenhall lined a two-out double into the right-field corner to put the Sweets' winning run at second.
Wentz, who knocked in the Sweets first run with a one-out, fourth-inning double, was again walked intentionally, and Kopacz came to the plate.
"I had another shot to get a clutch hit," Kopacz said. "I've been in that situation a couple of times this season, so I was excited to get it again."
Kopacz worked the count to 3-2 against Wenatchee reliever Keeler Brynteson, the seventh AppleSox pitcher of the night. Kopacz drove the 3-2 offering into the left-field corner and Mendenhall easily raced home with the game-winner.
"I had to get the job done," Kopacz said. "He threw a fastball middle out, and I got a good swing on it."
"That (eighth inning) was tough, when you load them (the bases) up and come away with nothing," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "Give credit to our guys for staying in there and getting another opportunity. It was good to see Chance putting some good swings on the baseball. Coming up like that (in the 10th) with a 3-2 count and then driving it, that's all you can ask."
The Sweets' win narrows the season series to a 6-2 AppleSox advantage as both teams end the regular season tonight at Borleske and prepare for the playoff opener Friday, also at Borleske.
"Every time you win, it furthers your belief in your ability," Biagi said. "It's good when you come out late in the game and come through with your heads up, despite what's gone on before. It's a big-time credit to our guys."
An RBI two-out single in the first inning from UCLA product Pat Valaika, who was tossed in the ninth for drawing a line with his bat to show the umpire where he thought the called third strike was, produced the only run the AppleSox would score against four Sweets pitchers.
It wasn't like Wenatchee didn't have chances. Sweets starter Derek Peterson worked the first six innings and stranded nine AppleSox on base.
Peterson's defense turned two double plays behind him to help get him out of trouble. After Daniel was hit to lead off the Wenatchee second, a Wentz-to-Kalani Brackenridge-to-Goose Kallunki (5-4-3) double play wiped out the threat. Brackenridge made a lunging, over-the-shoulder grab in short-center of a flare off the bat of Aaron DeGuire in the AppleSox sixth and doubled Gates, who led off the inning with a single, at second to defuse a two-on, no-out situation.
For the night, Wenatchee left 14 base runners stranded.
"We snuck out of a lot of jams," Biagi said. "They had a lot of opportunities. We were able to shut the door. You have to make pitches, and we did that all day, and we made some really good defensive plays."
Stanford ran his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits on the night. His bunt single in the fifth, his 65th hit on the year, broke the single-season WCL hit mark. Stanford's two hits improved his average to .346, but Gonzaga teammate and AppleSox right fielder, Payden Cawley Lamb, who is 6-for-8 in the series, is on Stanford's heels at .343.
The two teams conclude their regular season and playoff tuneup tonight at 7:05.
"We are ready," Kopacz, who will continue his collegiate career at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ken., this fall, said of the upcoming playoff. "Everybody is excited."
Sweets 2, AppleSox 1
Wen. 100 000 000 0 - 1 11 1
WW 000 100 000 1 - 2 8 0
Phillips, Baylis (2), Bigelow (4), Tygerson (6), Ortiz (7), Jones (8), Brynteson (10) and DeGuire; Peterson, Soja (7), Yardley (8), S. Anderson (10) and Hawk.
HR - none.
Hits - Wen: Cawley Lamb 3, Barnes 2, Valaika, Nelubowich 2, DeGuire, Gates 2; WW: Kallunki, Wentz 2, Stanford 2, Gottschling, Mendenhall, Kopacz.
Attend - 1742