PENDLETON - The Walla Walla Griz walked past the Pendleton Diamondjax 12-5 here Sunday in the first game of a Central Washington American Legion Single A League baseball doubleheader.
In the nightcap, the Griz rode Gavin McEvoy's three-hit shutout and a 12-hit offensive attack to a 10-0 victory.
The sweep moved the Griz two steps closer to a league championship. They are now 16-7 overall and 11-3 in league play, and they close out their league schedule this afternoon at Murr Field with a twin bill against the Diamondjax. The first pitch is slated for 3 p.m.
Walla Walla is already assured of finishing ahead of Hanford (2-6) in the final league standings, and a sweep today will guarantee the team a higher finish than Hermiston (0-4) and Pendleton (3-3). Only Moses Lake (2-2) has fewer losses that Walla Walla to this point.
Walla Walla has played its league games early to clear its schedule for a series of summer tournaments. After hosting the Tri-City Badgers in a non-league doubleheader Wednesday at Murr Field, the Griz are entered in a weekend tournament in Hood River followed by tournaments in Spokane and Selah.
Pendleton outhit Walla Walla 9-7 in Sunday's first game here and was also helped along by five Griz errors. But the Diamondjax couldn't overcome 15 walks issued by a trio of pitchers as the Griz rallied from an early 3-1 deficit by scoring four times in the fourth, three times in the fifth and four times in the sixth.
"Our pitchers (Tyler Anderson and Wyatt Taylor) actually did a good job," Griz coach Ryan Van Dyke said. "Pitching has been our strong point all season long, and then in the middle innings our batters figure out the opposing pitcher and we score some runs."
Kal Gray collected two of the Griz's seven hits in the first game. He rapped a single and a double, drove in one run and scored three times. Anderson contributed a key two-run single in the fourth inning.
Gray kept up his hot hitting in the second game with two doubles and a single, three RBIs and two runs scored. Solomon Arellano added a double and a single, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Logan Cordeiro singled twice and scored a pair of runs.
McEvoy put up six zeroes - the game was called after six innings via the 10-run mercy rule - and limited the Diamondjax to just three hits. He finished with three strikeouts and four walks.
"He was actually pretty dominant," Van Dyke said. "His ball runs a little bit and Pendleton was having trouble with it."
The Griz turned two double plays behind McEvoy, and Walla Walla center fielder Justin Elsom made seven putouts, one of them on a diving, sliding catch, Van Dyke said.
The Griz are pointing to the July 17 district tournament in which the top three teams in the five-team league qualify. The regular-season champion hosts the tournament.
"We just need to take care of business," Van Dyke said. "We split with Moses Lake, so we pretty much control our own destiny."
Walla Walla 001 434 0 - 12 7 5
Pendleton 000 300 2 - 5 9 2
Anderson, Taylor (5) and Watilo; Hergert, Pierce (4), Frostad (6) and Myers.
Hits - WW: McKinney, Watilo, Anderson, Arellano, Gray 2, Elsom; Pendleton: Hancock, Paige, Papel, Goodwin 2, Persinger, Yeager, Lunney 2.
Walla Walla 00 451 - 10 12 2
Pendleton 000 000 - 0 3 3
McEvoy and Watilo; Papel, Persinger (4) and Myers.
Hits - WW: Watilo, McEvoy, Arellano 2, Gray 3, Cordeiro 2, Coronado, Elsom, Taylor; Pendleton: Hancock, Paige, Myers.