WALLA WALLA - Sweets pitcher Tyler Billen made his last outing of the 2011 West Coast League baseball season a memorable one for himself, his teammates and an announced Borleske Stadium crowd of 1,856.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-hander allowed just two runs and seven hits over 7 2/3 innings Wednesday night as the Sweets ended regular-season play with a 3-2 victory over East Division champion Wenatchee.
"I (went) out and did my thing, pitched to the best of my ability," said Billen, who is leaving Friday for Weatherford, Okla., to attend Southwest Oklahoma State University. "I haven't pitched this much before."
In fact, not since his senior year at Edmond, Okla., Memorial High School two years ago.
"I threw fastballs and curveballs," Billen said. "I didn't throw a single change-up."
The Sweets and Applesox will square off in the opening round of the WCL playoffs, beginning with game one of a best-of-three series at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Borleske. The scene shifts to Wenatchee for games two and three (if necessary) on Saturday and Sunday.
Corvallis will meet Bend in the West Division series. The Elks clinched the West's second postseason berth Wednesday when Cowlitz lost at home to Corvallis, 2-0.
The Sweets tallied single runs in each of the first two innings of their triumph over Wenatchee.
Alex Stanford led off the first with a four-pitch walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, moved to third on a Denver Chavez fly to right field, and scored on a single to deep short by Andrew Mendenhall.
Austin Heaps and Elliot Stewart started inning two with back-to-back doubles. Stewart's two-bagger, a drive to the left-center alley, gave Walla Walla a 2-0 lead.
The Sweets scored their final run in the fifth. Chavez drew a one-out walk and crossed the plate on a Mendenhall double in the left-center gap.
Billen fashioned a four-hit shutout through seven innings before giving up two runs and three hits in the eighth. Ryan Barnes scorched a two-RBI double down the right-field line to draw the Applesox within one.
Brock Gates walked five pitches later and that was all for Billen.
Southpaw Jimmy Litchfield entered the game and retired Conner George on a foul fly to first to end the inning.
Wenatchee put two batters on against Litchfield with one out in the ninth, but failed to score. Litchfield struck out eventual league batting champion Payden Cawley Lamb - who had three hits in the game and ended the season with a .350 average - and got Erik Munzer to fly out to center to seal the save and the win.
"I'm happy with where they're at," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "We've built some confidence and belief. We've become a capable team the last three days."
"This one means everything to everybody on the team," Billen said. "Everybody contributed."
Righty Ryan Richardson, who posted a league-best 1.53 earned run average, will start for the Sweets on Friday, according to Biagi.
"Our guys are excited, enthusiastic," Biagi said. "We're ready to jump into this thing."
Walla Walla 3, Wenatchee 2
Wenatchee 000 000 020 - 2 8 0
Walla Walla 110 010 00x - 3 7 0
Ruff, Fabricious (3), Murray (5), Baylis (7), Tygerson (8) and Forbes. Billen, Litchfield (8) and Stewart.
HR - none.
Hits - Wenatchee: Cawley Lamb 3, Munzer, Gates, Nelubowich, Barnes, Daniel. Sweets: Mendenhall 3, Heaps, Stewart, Chavez, Kopacz.
Attend. - 1,856.