KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - In what has been an up and down summer, the Walla Walla Sweets' rally on Sunday in Klamath Falls could be a turning point.
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth inning, the Sweets scored the final five runs, including three in the top of the ninth, to defeat the Klamath Falls Gems 7-4 at Kiger Stadium.
The win, coupled with Bellingham's loss to Kelowna, moves the Sweets to within two games of a playoff spot with 15 games to play. After five innings, though, it appeared the Sweets would waste a second-straight opportunity to gain ground.
Klamath Falls scored three runs on four hits and two errors to erase a 2-1 Walla Walla lead in the fifth. That's when Walla Walla began its rally. Andrew Mendenhall reached on a throwing error to start the sixth, stole second and moved to third on a ground ball to third. The heads-up running paid off as the throw back to the pitcher got by Gems starter Hunter Greenwood and Mendenhall raced home and slid around the tag to make it 4-3.
Walla Walla tied it in the next inning with some clutch hitting. James Campbell started the inning with his second double, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Kevin Hawk sac fly to center. That set the stage for a dramatic ninth inning.
It was Hawk again that played a key role. Batting with two outs and the bases empty, Hawk did not back away on an inside pitch and gave the Sweets a baserunner.
Denver Chavez followed with an RBI triple down the right field line to break the tie. Alex Stanford beat out an infield single to score Chavez and eventually scored himself on a throwing error.
Those three runs were more than enough for reliever Derek Peterson. The right-hander from Gonzaga came on in the eighth and kept the game tied and then struck out two in the ninth to preserve the victory. Prior to Peterson's arrival, Kyle Anderson gave the Sweets a spectacular seven innings.
In his fourth start of the summer, Anderson pitched seven innings and gave up four runs (all unearned) and struck out three in his longest outing. He got eight ground balls over the first four innings, allowing an unearned run in the second.
In the fifth, Drew Sandler and Ashton McCoy collected back-to-back singles, Zack Earl bunted and for the second time in the game, the Sweets through the ball away at first. The wild throw at first scored the tying run and Rich Sanguinetti followed with a two-run single to left-center to make it 4-2.
Anderson eventually worked out of the inning and allowed just a hit over his final two innings.
With the win, the Sweets won the weekend-series 2-1 and the season-series 4-2 against the Gems. Walla Walla has two days off before starting a six-game homestand on Wednesday against the Bend Elks.
On Tuesday, six Sweets will participate in the West Coast League All-Star game at 7:15 p.m. in Corvallis.
Sweets 7, Gems 4
Walla Walla 001 101 103 - 7 11 4
Klamath Falls 001 030 000 - 4 7 5
Anderson, Peterson (8) and Hawk. Greenwood, Klein (9) and Sandler, Cornish.
HR - none.
Hits - WW: Stanford 2, Gottschling, Wentz 2, Heaps, Campbell 2, Hawks, Chavez 2. Kla: Sanguinetti 2, Saiko 2, Sandler, McCoy 2.