WALLA WALLA - The front end of Walla Walla Community College's doubleheader with Treasure Valley Wednesday was about as forgettable as it comes, with WWCC burning through six pitchers before the 23-8 walloping came to an end.
The Warriors hit the reset button in the nightcap, but weren't able to pick up runs late as they battled to a 6-5 loss in 11 innings.
"The first (game) we obviously don't even need to talk about," WWCC coach Dave Meliah said, "but the second game, that was a great game. It was like a playoff atmosphere, and we're both going to be in the playoffs."
Walla Walla (27-15, 16-10) had already clinched the East Region playoffs, but could have set themselves up with a path to the regular-season championship and an automatic bid to the NWAACC Tournament had they won both games. As it stands, the Warriors are now tied for third in the East with Treasure Valley, and will need to win in the playoffs set for May 18-19 to advance.
"At this point, it's just gearing up for the playoffs," Meliah said. "Right now we're kind of getting a jump-start on the playoffs a little bit."
The Warriors face playoff-bound Yakima Valley Saturday in another doubleheader at 1 p.m.
"I'd rather be playing these teams heading into the playoffs," Meliah said.
There were bright spots for the Warriors in the opener - albeit few and far between.
Already down 4-0 in the bottom of the first, lead-off batter Cody Poznanski took hold of a 3-2 pitch and sent it over the left-field wall and into the Warrior dugout.
Nine runs and six frustrating innings later, the Warriors finally cracked Treasure Valley's starter Markus Lively, loading the bases and forcing Chukars coach Rick Baumann to bring in releiver Alex Bunn.
Ryan Rambur, himself subbing in for right fielder Ryan James, left the yard on Bunn's first pitch for a grand slam that capped a six-run rally and push the score to 16-8.
But the rally did little but delay the inevitable as TVCC scored seven runs in the eighth to drive the win home.
In the nightcap, Treasure Valley built a 2-0 lead through four off runs in the first and fourth innings before Walla Walla took its first lead of the night with a three-run rally in the fifth.
Third baseman Tony Salas walked to lead the inning off, and an out later James joined him on the bases with a single to left field. Poznanski reached first on a throwing error from the TVCC third baseman that also allowed Salas to cross home.
Neal Schuck flew out to center, but drove home James and Knigge capped the rally by dropping a ball into shallow left field for an RBI single.
Jared Turner led the sixth inning with a double and Salas, who was 3-3 in the nightcap with double and a pair of walks, drove him in with a single to left to give the Warriors a 4-2 lead.
"Tony (Salas), he's been swinging the bat a lot better in the second half of league play," Meliah said. "He's been working really hard on his mechanics and he's improved a lot.
"In the first game they put some pressure on him and he didn't make some plays," Meliah said, "but he recovered and we put him out there again. He's playing well for us."
But the Warriors were unable to maintain the lead, and Treasure Valley scored a trio of runs in the eighth to retake the lead.
Salas led the bottom of the inning off with a double and reached home off a Shane Dixon safety to even the score at 5-all.
Neither team scored again in the ninth or 10th innings.
Reliever Connor Lawhead, who came in for starter Dixon in the sixth, walked the lead-off man, Grady Harris to start the 11th. Cory Holm reached on a fielders' choice and a batter later, Josh Mejia sent him home with a sac-fly to center.
The Warriors couldn't answer, and went three-up, three-down to end the game.
"That second game was really good, that's how we're going to need to play to make it further - but just win," Meliah said. "I thought we played hard, we came up just a little bit short."
But about that first game?
"I don't think there's anything you can really say about the first game," Meliah said. "It is what it is."
TVCC 410 440 37 - 23 22 1
WWCC 100 010 60 - 8 12 4
Lively, Bunn (7) and Reay; Knigge, Brockman (4), Gillespie (5), Mecham (7) Omoto (8), Campeau (8) and Holbrook.
HR - TVCC: Johnson; WWCC: Poznanski, Rambur.
Hits - TVCC: Fields 3, Wright 3, Simonds 3, Johnson 4, Skaggs 3, Harris, Hokm, Miller, Reay 3; WWCC: Poznanski, Schuck, Knigge, Jordan 2, Christina, Kilpatrick, Rambur, Holbrook.
TVCC 101 000 030 01 - 6 13 3
WWCC 000 051 010 00 - 5 11 0
Nyborg, Bunn (8), Olson (8) Curtis (9) and Nix, Hamilton (8), Mejia (9); Dixon, Lawhead (6) and Turner, Holbrook (10)
HR - none.
Hits - TVCC: Fields, Simonds 2, Johnson 3, Skaggs, Holm 3, Nix, Miller, Birch; WWCC:Poznanski 2, Schuck, Knigge, Jordan, Turner, Salas 3, Dixon, James.