LONGVIEW, Wash. - The first road trip of the season ended like it began for the Walla Walla Sweets. A day after playing their first flawless game defensively, the Sweets made three errors, the pitching staff walked eight, and the Cowlitz Black Bears took advantage, winning 8-1 and taking two of three games on the weekend at Story Field.
Walla Walla (3-3) walked 10 and commited four errors in Friday's 7-1 loss and appeared to have righted the ship with Saturday's 9-3 victory.
On Sunday, however, rain began to fall just as the Sweets started batting practice and two first-inning errors put the Sweets immediately behind the 8-ball.
Billy Flamion reached on an infield error with one out, Braxton Miller walked for the sixth time on the weekend and Spencer O'Neil dropped a broken-bat single into right center to load the bases.
Kirk Cunningham's sharp single to center scored one and a second run scored as the ball skipped away from the outfielder.
Cowlitz (2-4) added another run in the second as Flamion's sinking liner to right skipped all the way to the wall for a two-out RBI triple and tacked on two more in the fourth. A one-out walk started the inning and Derek Atkinson's liner to right eluded the dive of Chance Kopacz and went for an RBI triple. Atkinson eventually scored on a sac fly from Flamion.
Being in a 5-0 hole was bad enough, but the Sweets also had to contend with Cowlitz starter Porter Clayton. The lefty from Oregon allowed just one baserunner, a Brenton Allen single, in the first four innings and got a diving catch from Atkinson in center to help him end his night in the fifth.
With Clayton out, Walla Walla went to work against reliever Matt Maurer. Michael Leach dribbled a slow ground ball to third and beat it out for a leadoff single and Alex Stanford followed that with a walk.
Zach Wentz moved both runners into scoring position with a sac bunt and it appeared the Sweets were destined for a big inning as Kopacz ripped a single to left. Leach scored easily, but Stanford was also waved home and a strong throw from O'Neil in left got him at the plate.
Kopacz was then caught trying to take second on the throw, ending the inning on a 7-2-4 double play.
That was as close as the Sweets could get the rest of the night. Allen started a two-out rally in the seventh with a ground-rule double, but the Sweets left two on base. Back-to-back two-out walks in the eighth gave them some life, but they were also left stranded.
The Black Bears put the game away in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three runs thanks to two walks, a hit batter and an infield error.
Kevin Berry tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, sending the Sweets home with a sour taste in their mouthes.
Anderson started and took the loss for the Sweets, giving up five runs on five hits over four innings. Aaron Hoverson made his first appearance of the summer and pitched well the first two innings before giving way to Trent Allianic in the eighth with the Black Bears in the middle of their three-run inning.
Christian Bannister tossed a scoreless eighth for Cowlitz, Atkinson scored three runs and Flamion scored twice and drove in a pair.
After an off-day today, the Sweets return to Borleske Stadium on Tuesday to start an eight-game homestand, hosting the Klamath Falls Gems at 7:05 p.m.
Cowlitz 8, Walla Walla 1
Sweets 000 001 000 - 1 5 3
Bears 210 200 03x - 8 8 0
Anderson, Soja (5), Hoverson (7), Allianic (8) and Hawk. Clayton, Maurer (6), Bannister (8), Berry (9) and Webster.
HR - none.
Hits - WW: Kopacz, Kallunki, Allen 2, Leach. Cow: Atkinson, Flamion, O'Neil 2, Cunningham, Didier, Walding, Graham.