WALLA WALLA - The Sweets took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning, but had to hold their breath as Ben Ruff was able to induce a game-ending 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded to close out a 3-2 victory on Thursday night at Borleske Stadium.
The Sweets (18-24) have now won three straight games for the third time this summer.
The Applesox (27-14) dropped their second straight and now lead Bellingham by just one game in the East.
Walla Walla built its 3-1 lead with a pair of clutch two-out hits, but had to withstand a furious Applesox rally in the ninth.
Simon Anderson started the ninth, but the Applesox loaded the bases off him with just one out before Ruff was summoned. Cody Jansen came on to pinch-hit and dribbled a ground ball out in front of home plate that was misplayed and scored a run to make it 3-2.
Josh Rapacz then stepped in and Ruff induced a ground ball to short that Nick Vilter fielded to start the game-ending twin-killing.
Behind from the beginning after the Applesox scored in the first, the Sweets were able to grab the lead with two runs in the third.
Kalani Brackenridge started the rally with a triple to right-center and then used some deft base running to get himself out of a pickle.
Alex Bonczyk hit a grounder to third and Wenatchee's Taylor Sparks threw home as Brackenridge broke toward the dish. Brackenridge then changed direction three times before sliding safely back into third. It was an important play as Kris Paulino flew out to right to score him to tie the game and Brett Jacobs followed with a two-out double to left to score Bonczyk and make it 2-1.
The Sweets tacked on their third run thanks to another clutch two-out hit from Jacobs. Bonczyk reached on an infield single and moved to second as the throw got away. Jacobs then rolled a single through the left side to score Bonczyk and make it 3-1 in the fifth.
Walla Walla's pitching did the rest. Making his eighth start of the season, Arturo Reyes was strong over the first five innings. He allowed just one run on four hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Reyes has allowed one run or less in seven of his eight starts.
He struck out two in a 1-2-3 fourth and then got lucky in the fifth as Ryan Howell slid past the bag at third and was tagged out on what would have been a leadoff triple. Reyes would set down the next two batters and hand the ball to Joe Arlt.
Pitching on just three days rest, Arlt was dominant in three innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit but had to work out of a jam in the sixth to keep the Sweets on top.
A hit-by-pitch and a throwing error on a sac bunt put the first two runners of the inning on before a sac bunt moved both into scoring position. Facing two of the top hitters on the Applesox, Arlt got a fly ball to left and a strikeout to end the inning. He finished his night by leaving a runner on third in the eighth.
Jacobs, Vilter and Brackenridge all had two hits and Bonczyk scored two runs to lead the offense. The win was the fourth of the summer for Reyes. Ruff picked up his third save by escaping the ninth-inning jam.
The four-game series now shifts to Wenatchee, where the two teams play today and Saturday.
Sweets 3, Applesox 2
Applesox 100 000 001 - 2 8 1
Sweets 002 010 00x - 3 8 1
Lubking, Edson (7) and Schultz. Reyes, Arlt (6), Anderson (9), Ruff (9) and Turner.
HR - none.
Hits - Wen: Ventimilia, Gunsolus, Sparks, Drobny, Howell, Jansen, Reiten 2. WW: Bonczyk, Jacobs 2, Vilter 2, Fraser, Brackenridge 2.