KLAMATH FALLS - The Klamath Falls Gems scored a season-high ten runs and got shutdown relief from Patrick O'Rourke to defeat the Walla Walla Sweets 10-7 on Saturday night at Kiger Stadium.
It started off as a slugfest, with the teams combining for 15 runs over the first four innings, and ended in a pitcher's duel.
Walla Walla started the scoring with a Zach Wentz RBI infield single in the top of the first, but the Gems responded immediately in their first at-bats. Rich Sanguinetti singled to start the game, Graham Saiko walked and Kainoa Crowell's sac bunt ended up in a throwing error as Sweets starter Aaron Hoverson threw wide of third, scoring the first Gems run. Turner Gill followed with an RBI ground out and Nate Goodwin made it 3-1 with a single.
Continuing the pattern, the Sweets came right back in the second. Behind 0-2, Scott Gottschling crushed a fastball over the wall in left for his second home run in as many days and fourth of the summer. Austin Heaps followed with a single right back up the middle and he came around to tie the score on a Brenton Allen bloop single to left.
Neither team scored in their next at-bats but the Gems reignited their offense in the third.
Saiko started things with a double to left, Crowell walked and Gill reached on an infield single to load the bases. Ryan Doepple broke the tie with a sac fly to right and Goodwin then provided the biggest swing of the night.
Moments after his ground ball down the first base line was ruled foul, Goodwin ripped a three-run home run to right-center to make it 7-3.
Not to be out done, the Sweets came right back in the fourth thanks to a throwing error. Kalani Brackenridge reached with one out on the error and the Sweets went to work.
Kevin Hawk singled to left, Allen doubled home a run and Mendenhall followed with a two-run double off of Gems starter Andrew Jacobsen. O'Rourke came on to pitch and Alex Stanford greeted him with a game-tying RBI single to right before he finally ended the inning.
That was it for the Sweets against the right-hander from Hawaii.
O'Rourke got a double play ball in the fifth and some great defense in the sixth. With two outs and a man on second, Stanford hit a ground ball up the middle that Goodwin stopped, but his throw to first was late.
As that was unfolding, Allen was rounding third and heading home. Nick Miller caught the ball at first and quickly fired home to nab Allen and keep the Gems in the lead, 8-7. O'Rourke did not allow another baserunner until the ninth.
Walla Walla got the same kind of performance from Jimmy Litchfield. The left-hander came on as the Gems were scoring four runs in the third and ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
After getting the first two outs in the fourth, a double and infield throwing error allowed the Gems to take a lead they never relinquished.
That made Litchfield even better. He struck out the final batter in the inning and then did not allow another runner until an error in the seventh. In the process he set down nine straight.
Klamath Falls got two huge insurance runs in the eighth on a two-run triple from Saiko and needed to call on Josh Ferrell to close the door in the ninth. O'Rourke gave up a single and fell behind Stanford 2-0 before being lifted and Ferrell came on to get a pop out and fly out to end the game.
The loss snapped the Sweets four-game win streak but did not hurt as much as it could have. The Bellingham Bells also lost on Saturday, 10-7, to Kelowna. Mendenhall, Stanford, Wentz and Allen all had two hits for the Sweets and Litchfield gave up three runs on three hits over 5.2 innings of relief in a losing effort. Sanguinetti, Saiko and Goodwin all had two hits, Crowell scored three runs and Goodwin added four RBI. O'Rourke allowed just three hits over five scoreless innings of relief.
Walla Walla and Klamath Falls complete their weekend series and season series at 6:05 p.m. today. Kyle Anderson will get the ball for the Sweets in the rubber match.
Klamath Falls 10, Walla Walla 7
Sweets 120 400 000 - 7 11 4
Gems 304 100 02x - 10 9 3
Hoverson, Litchfield (3) and Hawk; Jacobsen, O'Rourke (4), Ferrell (9) and Cornish.
HR - Sweets: Gottschling. Gems: Goodwin.
Hits - Sweets: Mendenhall 2, Stanford 2, Wentz 2, Gottschling, Heaps, Hawk, Allen 2. Gems: Sanguinetti 2, Saiko 2, Crowell, Gill, Goodwin 2, Cornish.