WALLA WALLA - A seven-run, seven-hit first inning and a four-hit, three-run performance by Brett Jacobs powered the Walla Walla Sweets to a 10-2 victory over the Bellingham Bells in the opening game of a two-game West Coast League baseball series Friday night at Borleske Stadium.
The Sweets banged out 14 hits to back the five-hit pitching of starter Hunter Virant, who allowed two runs (one earned), struck out six, and walked one over five-and-two-thirds innings.
"I was very pleased," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said when asked about his team's offensive performance. "Guys settled in, saw some pitches, and turned (the bats) loose on some pitches in the zone.
"Hunter set the tone early," Biagi said. "He's got good stuff. He's still developing in terms of understanding the strike zone. He's getting closer to having the efficiency that a starter wants to have."
Friday's win was Walla Walla's third straight and sixth in its last seven games.
The Sweets' Spencer O'Neil drove in the first two runs of the game with a triple just inside the right-field line. Shane Zeile drove in O'Neil with a line-drive single to right.
Kelani Brackenridge made it 5-0 with a two-run single to right and Kris Paulino capped the first-inning fireworks by grounding a two-RBI triple just inside the first-base bag.
Zeile produced Walla Walla's eighth run of the contest with a second-inning double into the left-center alley.
Bellingham scored its two runs in the sixth inning. The Sweets got one back in the home half of the frame on back-to-back two-baggers by Jacobs and O'Neil.
Paulino scored the Sweets final run during the bottom of the eighth. He reached base with an infield single, went to second on an error, took third on a wild pitch, and crossed the plate on a passed ball.
O'Neil, Zeile, and Paulino followed Jacobs with two hits apiece for the Sweets. In all, eight Walla Walla batters collected at least one hit on the night.
"Our guys did a great job of working counts," Biagi said. "That carried through into the later innings."
Sweets 10, Bells 2
Bells 000 002 000 - 2 11 1
Sweets 710 001 01X - 10 14 1
Engel, Button (2), West (7), Ballowe (8) and Winterburn; Virant, Smith (6), Billen (8), Tygerson (9) and Turner.
HR - none.
Hits - Bells: Ely 2, Winterburn 2, Atkinson 2, Locher 2, Lewis, Santos, Farrington; Sweets: Jacobs 4, O'Neil 2, Zeile 2, Paulino 2, Kopacz, Cooper, Brackenridge, Bonczyk.