WALLA WALLA - Baseball fans who appreciate pitching would have loved the opening act of a three-game West Coast League baseball series between the Walla Walla Sweets and Kitsap BlueJackets Saturday night at Borleske Stadium.
Both Walla Walla righthander Ryan Richardson and Kitsap southpaw Richie Mascheri pitched well enough to come away with a victory.
In the end, Richardson walked away a deserving winner and Mascheri assumed the role of a hard-luck loser.
Richardson tossed a five-hit complete game highlighted by seven strikeouts and the opportunistic Sweets plated a pair of unearned runs against Mascheri in the bottom of the seventh inning that proved to be the difference in a 3-1 Walla Walla triumph.
"He was masterful, great," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said of Richardson. "He threw really well and set the tone early in the game."
Saturday's win snapped a four-game Walla Walla losing streak.
On Friday, Bellingham completed a three-game series sweep of the Sweets with a 2-1 victory at Borleske Stadium.
Walla Walla plated the first run on Saturday in the second inning after squandering a second-and-third, no out opportunity in the initial frame. Kevin Williams led off inning two with a single, advanced to third on a Scott Gottschling base knock, and scored on a Denver Chavez sacrifice fly to center field.
Evan Potter got the BlueJackets even in the sixth with an RBI single to left.
In the home seventh, Chavez drew a one-out walk and moved to second on an Andrew Mendenhall single. One out later, Zach Wentz worked Mascheri for a base on balls.
Chavez and Mendenhall scored when Potter, the Kitsap shortstop, misplayed a Chance Kopacz grounder.
Richardson, who twirled a no-hitter through four innings, retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced in the game and improved his record to 2-2.
"Stew (catcher Elliot Stewart) and I went to the change-up a lot," said Richardson, who tossed 101 pitches. "I threw whatever Stew called. I didn't shake him off. I'm glad to have two catchers (Stewart and Kevin Hawk) I can be comfortable with.
"It was good to get that win," Richardson said. "We caught a break on that ball Chance hit."
Alex Stanford had three hits for the Sweets and Mendenhall added two.
Defensively, the Sweets played errorless ball and turned a pair of double plays while Gottschling (starting left fielder) and Kopacz (starting right fielder) ran down hard-hit balls in the left-center and right-center gaps, respectively, during the two-hour, three-minute contest.
Mascheri, who was beaten by the Sweets a week ago in Bremerton, fanned four and walked two over seven innings.
The middle game of the series is today at 6:05 p.m.
Sweets 3, Kitsap 1
Kitsap 000 001 000 - 1 5 2
Sweets 010 000 20x - 3 7 0
Mascheri, Riley (8) and Brann, Lonsdale (8). Richardson and Stewart.
HR - none.
Hits - Kitsap: O'Such 2, Johnson, Potter, Norton. Sweets: Stanford 3, Mendenhall 2, Williams, Gottschling.