WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Community College dropped a pair of NWAACC non-region baseball games to visiting Tacoma Community College Saturday, losing the first game 9-1 and the second 7-3.
"Tacoma is a good team," Warrior coach Dave Meliah said. "It was a good test for us, to see where we're at with our guys.
"Whenever we made a mistake, pitching-wise, they hammered it," Meliah said of the Titans, who finished last season at 24-16 overall. "If we made an error, they made us pay for it, they at least put up a run, and that was kind of the theme of the day."
In game one, Tacoma's Matthew Bell pitched five perfect innings before WWCC's Cody Poznanski singled up the middle to break up the no-hitter. He gave up three hits and no runs through eight innings of play before Jamison Daniel came on to close the game out in the ninth.
"He (Bell) was an all-league guy last year and he's going to South Alabama (next season)," Meliah said. "He's a (NCAA) Division I pitcher. He controlled the strike zone, he was down in the zone, and that's what good pitchers do. He really just controlled the game."
But while Bell was sharp, the Warriors missed some chances, Meliah said.
"It wasn't like he was perfect, there were plenty of opportunities that we had," Meliah said. "We just didn't take advantage of them."
While Bell confounded the Warrior batters, the Titans' bats were in mid-season form in the first game despite it being TCC's first action of the season.
TCC lit up WWCC starting pitcher Joe Arlt for 10 hits and six runs in five innings before he was pulled in favor of freshman righty Nick Brockman. Brockman gave up three more runs in two innings and Shane Dixon was summoned in the eighth to close out the game. Dixon worked two scoreless, hitless innings.
Wa-Hi product Jake Campeau started game two and fared better, lasting one out into the seventh, but gave up 10 hits and six runs. Kyle Mecham gave up two hits and a run in an inning and two-thirds of relief before Jeff Gillespie came on in the ninth. He ended with just one hit given up.
The Warrior bats didn't perform much better against the Titans in game two.
TCC starter Timothy Dean started off shaky, walking his first two batters to start the nightcap, but pitched six innings and only gave up one run on two hits.
Reliever Taylor Saucedo never found his rhythm, hitting the first batter he faced and walking the next. He gave up two runs on just one hit in 1.2 innings of work. He was pulled two outs into the eighth in favor of right-handed sophomore Talon Sisley. Sisley hit a batter and allowed a hit but finished the nightcap without allowing a run.
Gillespie was the only Warrior to cross home plate in the first game, scoring in the ninth. He reached base on a single past shortstop Marcus Hinkle before being advanced to second when Daniel walked third baseman Tony Salas. Jared Jordan slapped a grounder to Hinkle and reached base on a fielder's choice to record the RBI.
TCC started the scoring in the first inning of the opener. After lead-off batter Joseph Nazzaro grounded out to shortstop, second baseman Seth Heck sent a line drive past left fielder Michael Kilpatrick for a double. One out later, designated hitter Stephan Adams recorded an RBI after hitting a bouncing grounder to shortstop Jordan who couldn't get a throw to first off in time to record the final out of the inning.
Arlt sat down TCC's Erich Armstrong swinging to end the inning.
TCC didn't score again until the fourth. After Clayton Brown grounded out Adams, who was 3-of-5 at the plate for the game, singled up the middle. A walk and a balk later, Adams was in scoring position at third base when Benjamin Circeo hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
The fifth inning proved disastrous for the Warriors. Lead-off batter Davis Alderman sent a line drive over second baseman Gillespie's head to reach first, then stole second. He scored a batter later off a Nazzaro single. Heck, who was 2-of-4 from the plate, dropped another single into the gap between second and right field.
After Clayton Brown popped out, Adams sent a long line drive just over the left-field wall and into the Warrior bullpen for a three-run homer.
Brockman held the Titans scoreless in the sixth but doubles from Circeo and Alderman, and singles from Garrett Degallier and Marcus Hinkle drove across three more runs to build a 9-0 TCC lead.
"When you give a really good team extra outs or extra chances, it hurts," Meliah said. "And the first game, that was kind of the theme throughout the whole game. Then before you know it, they're up 4-0 and we're trying to scramble to get back into it."
The Titans started game two with another run in the first.
An out into the inning, Clayton Brown singled to third base, but WWCC's Jarrod Turner couldn't handle the throw from third baseman Tony Salas and Brown advanced to second. Degallier scored him with a single up the middle.
WWCC answered back in the bottom of the first, as lead-off batter Neal Schuck and Cody Poznanski both drew consecutive walks.
With Schuck in scoring position on second, Jordan hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
TCC took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second. Trey Cochran doubled and Chad Michaud followed with a double into the left-field corner to score Cochran.
Tacoma widened the margin to 5-1 in the top of the fifth inning. After an out, Brown sent a line drive over a leaping Campeau to reach first. He advanced to second after a single from Degallier and Adams reached base on a fielder's choice to set Campeau up with runners on the corners and two outs.
Then Erich Armstrong recorded just his second hit of the day, but it was a doozy - a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
"That was just a mistake - it was a mistake pitch," Meliah said. "It was supposed to be down and away and it was left over the plate. You do that to a guy in the middle of the order, they're going to make you pay for it."
Campeau held the Titans scoreless in the sixth and gave up another run in the seventh before WWCC was finally able to put a crooked number on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh.
Saucedo first hit Turner, then walked sophomore Kasey Knigge. An out later, Kilpatrick recorded a single to load the bases, just the Warriors' third hit in the game, and Saucedo walked catcher Connor Holbrook to force Turner home. Schuck recorded another RBI when he reached base on a fielder's choice to bring the Warriors within three, 6-3, but Poznanski lined out to shortstop to end the Warrior rally.
Tacoma scored one more run in the ninth, a run scored by Heck after he reached first on a walk.
The pair of losses mar what was a hot start to WWCC's season and drops the Warriors to .500 at 3-3 in non-conference play.
WWCC faces Grays Harbor in another doubleheader today at 11.
Tacoma 100 140 300 - 9 16 0
WWCC 000 000 001 - 1 4 0
Bell, Daniel (8) and Alderman; Arlt, Brockman (6), Dixon (8) and Turner.
HR - TCC: Adams.
Hits - TCC: Nazzaro 2, Heck 2, Adams 3, Armstrong, Circeo 2, Degallier, Alderman 2, Hinkle 3. WWCC: Gillespie, Jordan, Knigge, Poznanski.
Tacoma 110 030 101 - 7 12 1
WWCC 100 000 200 - 3 4 2
Dean, Saucedo (7), Sisley (8) and Michaud; Campeau, Mechum (8), Gillespie (9) and Holbrook.
HR - TCC: Armstrong.
Hits - TCC: Brown (3), Degallier 4, Adams, Armstrong, Cochran, Michaud. WWCC: Poznanski, Salas, Turner, Kilpatrick.