WALLA WALLA - The Walla Walla Sweets presented the visiting Central Oregon Bucks with two chances to win the middle game of their three-game non-West Coast League baseball series Saturday night at Borleske Stadium.
Little and none.
Walla Walla banged out 13 hits and tallied an equal number of runs while getting six solid innings from starting pitcher Garrett Tygerson during a 13-2 rout.
Alex Bonczyk led the Sweets with three hits. J.J. Robinson, Shane Zeile, and Kris Paulino had two hits apiece.
"We had a good night offensively," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "We swung the bats well. We got some pitches to hit and we drove them."
Tygerson, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, gave up two earned runs - both in the sixth inning. He scattered eight hits, struck out three and walked two.
"Garrett was good. He threw very well," Biagi said. "We were looking for that. He was good. He was real good."
Ryan Cooper got the Sweets on the board in the second inning with a successful squeeze bunt that scored Robinson from third base.
Walla Walla produced a fair share of two-out magic in the third. Zeile slapped an RBI double into the right-field corner and Robinson sliced a two-run double that split the left-center alley and gave the Sweets a 4-0 lead.
"We got some hits early and were able to continue on," Biagi said.
A greater Walla Walla margin was established in the fifth inning. Nick Vilter lifted a sacrifice fly to center, Chance Kopacz delivered an RBI single to right, Cooper ripped a triple to right-center for two runs, and Ben Ruff capped the five-run feast with a run-producing double to right-center to make it 9-0.
A wild pitch and error led to three Walla Walla runs in the sixth.
Zeile recorded the final RBI of the night with a single to right in the seventh inning.
The weekend set wraps up today at 5:05 p.m. Righty Zach Brandon is expected to get the start for the Sweets, Biagi said.
Sweets 13, Bucks 2
Bucks 000 002 000 - 2 11 2
Sweets 013 053 10X - 13 13 1
Priestly, Brown (5), Guzzon (6) and Azevedo, Branham (7); Tygerson, Billen (7), Ruff (9) and Robinson.
HR - none.
Hits - Bucks: Hendrickson 4, Close 3, Jo. Carroll 2, Wagner, Reddick; Sweets: Bonczyk 3, Robinson 2, Zeile 2, Paulino 2, Kopacz, Cooper, Ruff, Garza.
Walla Walla 8, Central Oregon 7
WALLA WALLA - The Walla Walla Sweets found themselves on the short end of a 3-1 score after seven innings of its non-West Coast League baseball game with the visiting Central Oregon Bucks on Friday night at Borleske Stadium.
Walla Walla managed just four hits against Central Oregon starting pitcher Dillon Keene, and was guilty of four defensive errors.
But the Sweets tallied four times in the bottom of the eighth - highlighted by a Shane Zeile two-run home run that broke a 3-3 tie - to take a 5-3 lead.
The Bucks scored four times in the top of the ninth to claim a 7-5 edge.
Walla Walla, though, would put up three two-out runs in the home half of the ninth, thanks in part to two Central Oregon errors and a game-deciding passed ball, to pull out the opener of the three-game series, 8-7.
The Sweets registered seven runs and an equal number of hits against two Bucks' relievers in their final two at-bats.
"I'm happy with the win, but you try to put yourself in a situation where it's not exciting," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "The difficult thing is to be critical when you come out on top.
"They have good players," Biagi said of the Bucks. "They came to compete. Keene is a competitor. We chased a couple of breaking balls and missed opportunities on balls in the zone."
Central Oregon broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning off of Walla Walla starter D.J. Smith. The Bucks were aided by a pair of Walla Walla miscues.
The Sweets scored their first run in the home third on a two-out, RBI double by Kris Paulino.
In the Walla Walla eighth, Chance Kopacz socked a one-out single and raced home on a Paulino triple. Alex Bonczyk scored Paulino with a bloop single to right and advanced to second on an error.
Bonczyk moved to third on a wild pitch and Zeile drove a 2-2 delivery over the hand-operated scoreboard in left.
"He's a good hitter," Biagi said of Zeile. "He's very aware of the strike zone. He's comfortable in those big spots."
Ryne Clark's RBI triple and a run-scoring double by Cullen Hendrickson capped the Bucks' scoring in the top of the ninth against Sweets' reliever Doug Ashby.
Ryan Cooper led off the Walla Walla ninth with a single. Two outs later, Paulino doubled to left to drive in Cooper and bring the Sweets within one, 7-6.
Bonczyk and Zeile reached on infield snafus. Paulino went to third on the former error and scored the tying run on the latter.
Nick Vilter walked to load the bases prior to an errant first pitch to J.J. Robinson that scored Bonczyk from third.
"We battled (despite) all the things that went wrong," Biagi said. "We have fighters, tough kids. There's no quit in them."
Keene walked one and struck out four over seven innings.
Smith pitched six innings. He gave up five hits and two earned runs while walking two and fanning five.
"He struggled in the third, but picked it up after that," Biagi said. "He was not at his best, but he was able to work his way out of it. He had to grind it out."
Sweets 8, Bucks 7
Bucks 003 000 004 - 7 10 4
Sweets 001 000 043 - 8 11 4
Keene, McAlister (8), Grazzini (8) and Azevedo; Smith, Ashby (7) and Robinson.
HR - Sweets: Zeile.
Hits - Bucks: Azevedo 3, Clark 2, Close 2, Wagner, Larimer, Hendrickson; Sweets: Paulino 3, Bonczyk 2, Robinson 2, Brackenridge, Kopacz, Zeile, Cooper.