Knights smoke Sweets in Game One

Corvallis downs Walla Walla, 14-3, in the first game of the WCL Championship Series on Tuesday at Borleske.


WALLA WALLA -- Baseball is a fickle game.

Walla Walla came into its first-ever West Coast League Championship series riding an emotional high after sweeping East Division regular-season champion Wenatchee in two straight in the division series.

How fast fortunes change

The Sweets did little right and Corvallis did little wrong as the Knights pounded out 18 hits and took a 1-0 series lead in the best of three championship with a 14-3 win over the Sweets in front of a record-setting crowd of 2,380 here Tuesday.

Walla Walla went 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position, left the bases loaded in three consecutive innings and committed six errors.

"That was tough," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. "Not what we expected. (We) thought we'd come out a little differently tonight. Fortunately, it's a three-game series. It's important for us to put this one behind us, and be the team that we're capable of being."

The Knights got a RBI triple from David Armendariz and a sac fly from Ryan Gorton to score twice in the top of the first.

The Sweets answered behind a lead off single from Alex Stanford and Denver Chavez followed with a double to chase Stanford home, but in what was to become a trend, the next three hitters went in order to strand Chavez.

Runners made it to first and second with no outs in the Sweets second, and no one scored. Ditto in the Sweets third.

Corvallis broke this one open in the fourth. Gorton belted a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for a 3-1 Knights lead to open the Corvallis fourth.

The first six Knight hitters reached, five hits and a WW error, one of three on the inning, and all six scored before Walla Walla got the first out.

Corvallis, playing in its second consecutive League Championship series, took control with an 8-1 lead after four.

Hits by Zach Wentz and Chance Kopacz loaded the bases for the Sweets in the fifth, but WW came away empty.

Andrew Mendenhall plated Scott Gottschling, who singled with one out in the home sixth with a sacrifice fly to center, but again that was all the Sweets got despite leaving the bases full.

Elliot Stewart doubled to open the Sweets seventh, and Kalani Brackenridge followed with a single. Gottschling delivered Stewart with a double into the left field corner, but that was all as the Sweets left the bases loaded for the third consecutive inning.

"We had a lot of opportunities early," Gottschling said. "Second and thirds, bases loaded with less than two outs. If we capitalize on those, it starts out differently. The whole momentum swings."

The Knights had the offense on this night. They tacked on three more in the fifth with Corey Moore's run-producing single as the highlight. Leading 11-1, Corvallis tried to add on in the sixth behind a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, but Sweets reliever Eric Yardley pitched out of a second and third one out jam to deny Corvallis.

After Gorton's run scoring double in the Knights seventh, Cade Gotta's RBI triple, his fourth hit of the night, sparked a two-run Knights eighth to close out the scoring.

The 2,380 fans tried to get the Sweets going, but that clutch hit proved illusive, although it wasn't for a lack of trying. It took Corvallis pitching until the eighth to finally get the Sweets 1-2-3.

"We created a few opportunities," Biagi said. "We didn't cash in at any point. But guys are still fighting and guys still want this thing."

The series moves to Corvallis Thursday, and a Sweets win forces a game-three Friday.

"It (the 14-3 loss) is just one game," two-year Sweets veteran Gottschling said. "We've just got to come out on Thursday and stick it to them. We wish we could've got it (a win) here in front of our fans, but now we've just got to go there and do it in their place.

"The fans here at Borleske are unreal," Gottschling continued. "Sorry we couldn't win it for them, but hopefully we'll bring back a championship."

Corvallis 14, Walla Walla 3

Corvallis 200 630 120 -- 14 18 1

Walla Walla 100 001 100 -- 3 9 6

Stuart, Hart (4), Schultz (6), Hoover (7), Mendoza (9) and Davis; Watson, Peterson (4), Yardley (6), Mack (9) and Stewart.

HR -- Knights: Gorton.

Hits -- Knights: Oleszczuk 2, Armendariz, Gotta 4, Gorton 2, Davis 3, Allen, Nylen 2, Moore, Scott 2; Sweets: Stanford 2, Chavez, Wentz, Kopacz, Gottschling 2, Stewart, Brackenridge.

A -- 2,380.


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