WALLA WALLA - Kalani Brackenridge ripped a 1-0 fastball down the right-field line, scoring Alex Bonczyk in the bottom of the ninth inning and sending the Walla Walla Sweets into a frenzy as they walked off with a 1-0 win over the Corvallis Knights on Sunday night at Borleske Stadium.
With the game scoreless and the bases loaded, Brackenridge got a pitch out over the plate from Corvallis reliever Matt Pechmann and placed it just inside the right-field line before being mobbed by his teammates between first and second. The hit not only won the game for the Sweets but it also gave them the series victory over the Knights, 2-1.
The winning rally started with a leadoff single from Bonczyk, a defensive replacement in the top of the ninth. James Campbell attempted to bunt, but got hit in the thigh by a slider, putting two runners on.
Kevin Hawk was next up and, after fouling off two straight bunts, he squared to bunt again with two strikes but was also hit by a pitch, loading the bases.
Brackenridge then sent the fans home happy with his single to right.
For eight innings, it appeared that neither team wanted to win the game. The Sweets had stranded nine men on base over their first eight at-bats and the Knights had left eight on base.
Both teams' best chances came in back-to-back half innings.
Walla Walla loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against reliever Kyle Hart, but the gutsy right-hander struck out the next two batters looking to leave the bases loaded.
Feeding off the momentum, Corvallis quickly mounted a rally in the seventh.
Kramer Scott led off with a bunt single and advanced to second when the throw sailed down the right field line. A pitch later he was on third and a walk to J.K. Dykes put runners on the corners with no outs.
Sean Santschi, who already escaped trouble in the sixth, bore down and got a called strike three on Alex Foulon and induced back-to-back infield pop-ups to end the threat.
Both starters, Trent Allianic for Walla Walla and Chris Johnson for Corvallis, gave their teams solid starts. Allianic worked 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball and Johnson went five scoreless.
Allianic worked out of several early jams. He got back-to-back strikeouts to end the first and strand a runner on third, left a runner on third with a ground-out in the second and got a fly-out and ground-out to strand two more in the third. The Sweets bullpen was just as effective with Santschi going 1 2/3 innings and Tim Culligan throwing the final two frames and striking out three.
In all, the Sweets pitching staff threw 27 innings in the three-game series and gave up just one earned run. It struck out 19, walked five and held the Knights to a .182 batting average.
Walla Walla appeared to have grabbed the lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Goose Kallunki, but Corvallis appealed to third base and the umpires said that Chance Kopacz left early, nullifying the run and ending the inning.
Brackenridge finished the night as the only Sweet with multiple hits and Culligan earned the win in relief.
Nathan Blackham and Kramer Scott each collected two hits for the Knights.
The Sweets have today off and return to Borleske Stadium Tuesday when they face the Portland Toros at 7:05 p.m. It's the first Kids Night of the summer, with children under the age of 12 getting a ticket for $1 when accompanied by the purchase of an adult ticket.
Sweets 1, Knights 0
Knights 000 000 000 - 0 7 1
Sweets 000 000 001 - 1 7 3
Johnson, Hart (6), Pechmann (9) and Bogue. Allianic, Santschi (6), Culligan (8) and Hawk.
HR - none.
Hits - Knights: Blackham 2, Moore, Alexander, Boyd, Scott 2. Sweets: Brackenridge 2, Stanford, Heaps, Wentz, Bonczyk, Hawk.