Wild end caps Sweets' rally over Gems

The Sweets lose a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth but rally back in the bottom for a 6-4 win.

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Sweets pitcher Derek Peterson (right) dives over Klamath Falls baserunner Joel Atkinson (left) as the two race to the plate after a passed ball got by the catcher, allowing Atkinson to score on the play and put the Gems up 4-2 in the top of the eighth inning in Tuesday's series opener.

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Sweets third baseman Zach Wentz ranges to his right to come up with a backhand grab before throwing to first base for the out during the sixth inning against the Klamath Falls Gems.

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Sweets second baseman Denver Chavez (1) chases down Klamath Falls base runner Kainoa Crowell (7) during the top of the fourth inning Tuesday.

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Laying in her father's lap, a Sweets fan holds a baseball and laughs while being tickled between innings of the Sweets' game Tuesday evening against Klamath Falls.

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A mid-inning contestant makes a sweet splash as he comes up with a Walla Wala Sweet Onion during the Apples and Onions promotion Tuesday evening as the Sweets took on the Klamath Falls Gems.

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Sweets shortstop Alex Stanford (24) fields a high hop on a ground ball during the fifth inning Tuesday evening.

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Alex Stanford (24) ranges low to his right fielding a sharply hit ground ball against the Klamath Falls Gems.

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A young Walla Walla Sweets fan claps along with the seventh inning stretch song during the Sweets' game against the Klamath Falls Gems Tuesday evening.

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Sweets third base coach J.C. Biagi sends baserunner Andrew Mendenhall (9) home after a long hit into the gap by Chance Kopacz (26), scoring two runs for the Sweets.

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En-route to third base for a triple, Chance Kopacz (26) finds himself caught in a run down after slipping and falling between second and third base during the sixth inning.

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A high throw from third pulls Denver Chavez (1) off the bag on an attempted double play against the Klamath Falls Gems.

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Sweets second baseman, and returning player, Denver Chavez (1) stays low to field a ground ball off a Klamath bat during their Tuesday evening game.

WALLA WALLA - Ryan Richardson had Walla Walla rolling with seven strong innings on the mound and the Sweets holding a 2-1 lead against the expansion Klamath Falls Gems at Borleske Stadium Tuesday night.

But as soon as Richardson left in the eighth inning, Klamath Falls rallied with three runs for a 4-2 lead.

That gave the Sweets' bats a chance for a rally of their own, and they did just that as Walla Walla plated four eighth-inning runs to win the West Coast League game, 6-4.

"It was good to come back in that situation," Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said of the rally. "We all know - and we talked about it - we shouldn't be in that situation. We need our bullpen to come in and throw strikes. If we can do that, and have some timely hitting and mix in a little defense, I think we'll be OK."

Richardson allowed the Gems' first run in the first inning, then watched as Chance Kopacz's third-inning triple scored Andrew Mendenhall and Denver Chavez to give Walla Walla the lead.

Richardson turned back the final nine Gems batters he faced.

"Ryan threw great," Biagi said. "That's what we've come to expect from him. He's just a strike thrower. He locates his off-speed stuff and he competes his tail off every time he comes out. He was good tonight - really good."

But when Richardson left in the eighth, Klamath Falls immediately jumped on Sweets relievers Drew Fittry and Derek Peterson to score three runs and take a 4-2 lead. The bases were loaded for the second time in the inning when Sean Santschi, the Sweets' third pitcher of the eighth stanza, ended the inning with a strikeout.

That opened the door for Walla Walla's rally. Kopacz, who earlier in the game extended his hitting streak to six games, walked to open the eighth inning. He was replaced by pinch runner James Campbell.

New arrival Elliot Stewart followed with another walk, which knocked Gems reliever Cody Edwards off the mound in favor of Dusty Ross.

Ross got two quick outs, but then walked Brenton Allen to load the bases, and Alex Stanford smacked a two-run double to tie the game.

The Gems then intentionally walked Kevin Hawk to again load the bases, and Mendenhall made them pay with a two-run double of his own to score Allen and Stanford.

The contributions of his new arrivals - which on Monday included Stewart, Chavez, Mendenhall, Kyle Anderson, Cory Mack and Eric Yardley - weren't unnoticed by Biagi.

"Elliot (Stewart) had a couple good (at-bats) where he walked," Biagi said. "Mendenhall came through with that hit late in the game.

"We're almost at full capacity. I think we'll see a full roster by the end of the week, and we look forward to those guys competing," he said. "We've got a great group of guys. We're still working to get on the same page on a few things, but we've got great attitudes, great kids. They're all ballplayers."

The Sweets (4-3) continue their eight-game homestand at 7:05 p.m. tonight against the same Gems (3-6).

Sweets 6, Gems 4

Gems 100 000 030 - 4 6 5

Sweets 002 000 04x - 6 6 2

Schmidt, LaBrie (6), Edwards (8), Ross (8) and Cornish. Richardson, Fittry (8), Peterson (8), Santschi (8), Billen (9) and Hawk.

HR - none.

Hits - Klam: Sanguinetti, Atkinson, Gill, Saiko, Miller, Crowell. WW: Mendenhall, Kopacz 2, Allen, Stanford, Hawk.

Post-game interview with Andrew Mendenhall and Tyler Billen

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