Sweets' offense reappears in win over Toros

Walla Walla strings hits together to hand the Portland Toros a 7-1 non-league defeat Wednesday at Borleske Stadium.



Walla Walla second baseman Zach Wentz gets the out on a sliding Brandon Bufton of the Toros, then completes the double play to first base during the sixth inning of Wednesday night's game.


Walla Walla's Zach Wentz tips his helmet after crossing home plate with his fifth inning homer Wednesday night against the Portland Toros.


Sweets pitcher Tyler Billen gets ready to fire a strike against visiting Portland Wednesday night at Borleske Stadium.


Covering the bad hop, Walla Walla's Zach Wentz stays in front of the 3rd inning hit but can't come up with the out against the visiting Portland Toros.


Making another great stop after the dive for a ball hit in shallow center field, Walla Walla's game changer, Alex Bonczyk, keeps Portland baserunners at bay during the 6th inning with the Sweets up 6-1.


With Sweet Lou hot on his heels, a youngster casts a quick glance at the fast approaching onion as the two head for the 3rd base finish line. Lou lost yet another race to a young fan during the traditional between inning, 1st to 3rd dash.


A charging Alex Bonczyk lost his hat but got the 3rd inning out in center field for the Sweets with the score tied at 1-1.


Walla Walla's Chance Kopacz is safe under Portland's Matt Zeller during the first inning tangle at 2nd base.


Tripped up while running for the ball, Portland's Matt Zeller loses the ball and the out in the 5th inning.

WALLA WALLA - The Sweets closed out their opening homestand with a 7-1 victory over the nonleague Portland Toros Wednesday night.

The victory completes a mini-sweep of the Toros and sets Walla Walla up at 4-1 overall with their first road trip of the season opening Friday. It's also their best offensive effort since the 8-0 opening-night victory against Corvallis.

"It was good to get back out there," said Sweets manager J.C. Biagi. "We struggled a little offensively in our last couple of games, so it was good to string a few hits together."

Walla Walla's Zach Wentz plated two hits, including a home run, in a four-RBI night.

The one-out, two-RBI shot over the left-field fence in the fifth inning was Wentz's first home run of the summer.

"Home runs come when you're not trying to hit them," Wentz, a junior at North Dakota State, said. "I was in the moment, I had a 2-0 pitch count and he threw my pitch."

Wentz also scored the go-ahead and insurance runs in the third inning with a two-out double into the center-field wall.

"I came in a little early today to simplify things," Wentz said. "I wanted to keep it simple out there, and I saw the ball better tonight."

The Toros scored first on the night in the opening inning. William Koenig walked, then advanced to second on a wild pitch with Brandon Bufton at bat and two outs. An error on Bufton's infield knock sent him to first and brought Koenig home. But Sweets starting pitcher Tyler Billen held the Toros down after that, giving up three of the Toros' four hits on the night in his first start of the summer.

In the bottom of the first, 10-day player Alex Bonczyk singled, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Chance Kopacz singled to bring him home to tie the game.

The two-run third sent Walla Walla ahead, and the Sweets never looked back, scoring three in the fifth and closing out all scoring with a single run in the sixth.

Portland base runners made it past second base only once more in the ballgame.

Nate Douglas singled with one out and advanced to third on a Bufton single in the sixth - the only consecutive hits for the Toros on the night.

But a Sweets' 5-4-3 double play - Goose Kallunki-Wentz-Heaps - outed Douglas and Bufton to close the inning.

The Toros didn't mark another hit as the Sweets' bullpen closed out the game for winning pitcher Billen.

The Sweets amassed 11 runs on the night, putting a runner on base in every inning except the eighth and marking hits in every inning but the fourth and eighth.

"I'm pleased with where we're at," Biagi said. "We'll have some guys join us by next week and we'll be rolling with a full roster."

It was Walla Walla Community College product Bonczyk's final game as a Sweet, Biagi said.

"Alex did a good job for us," he said. "We're thankful. We've got a few guys who are very capable coming in and we're looking forward to it."

With their first road test coming, the players hope they're ready.

"It will be a good test for us, to play in front of someone else's fans," Wentz said. "It's good for us to come out at 4-1 in our first homestand."

Walla Walla travels to Cowlitz for a 6:35 p.m. game Friday, and remains there Saturday and Sunday.

The Sweets return to Walla Walla Tuesday, hosting the West Coast League's Klamath Falls Gems at 7:05 p.m.

Sweets 7, Toros 1

Portland 100 000 000 - 1 4 1

Walla Walla 102 031 00x - 7 11 1

Schuetz, Gujral (4) and Matheny; Billen, Anderson (7), Fittry (8), Culligan (9) and Leach.

HR - Walla Walla: Wentz.

Hits - Portland: Koenig, Douglas, Bufton, Riggins. Walla Walla: Bonczyk 2, Stanford, Kopacz, Heaps, Kallunki, Wentz 2, Campbell 2, Leach.


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