WALLA WALLA – The Sweets had been outscored 24-5 in a four-game West Coast League losing streak and had plummeted to third place in the North Division standings following Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Victoria HarbourCats at Borleske Stadium.
A total of 1,340 Sweets fans watched another poor offensive performance by Walla Walla.
“What really has plagued as of late is offense,” Walla Walla skipper J.C. Biagi said. “We’ve thrown some decent games and we’ve thrown some really poor ones. But in a lot of instances in which we’ve struggled, it has come on the offensive end.
“Hitting is not always an easy thing,” he said. “It is a tough thing in sports. It is the really tough thing about baseball. You have to get up and hit. You’ve got to do it consistently and you’ve got to find strikes to drive. We have not done that. We continue forward, but that is the challenge of it – to come out and swing the bats like we’re capable of doing.”
After scoring just five runs in their four-game WCL losing streak, the Sweets team batting averagefell to last in the league at .228.
First-place Klamath Falls is batting .283.
The Sweets team pitching is middle of the pack, with a 4.30 earned run average. Tops in the league is Corvallis with a 2.89 ERA.
Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, though.
What kept the Sweets in the game Friday was starter Cody Poteet, who pitched seven solid innings of baseball.
Poteet was charged with three hits and two runs and only one of them earned.
On the evening, the Sweets made three errors behind Poteet.
The HarbourCats (20-25) fell behind 1-0 on a Kris Paulino double and an RBI single by catcher Renae Martinez in the bottom of the second.
The Sweets couldn’t keep the momentum going as they gave up an unearned run in the top of the third.
David Schuknecht hit an infield single to third, and Brett Urabe’s sacrifice bunted him to second base. With two outs, Brandon Smith reached on a fielding error to allow Schuknecht to score.
The ball skipped off the glove of Sweets third baseman Jarod Gonzales and into left field, allowing the run to come to home plate.
The score was 1-1 going into the top of the fourth. In that frame, John Schuknecht homered deep to left field to put Victoria up 2-1.
In the top of the eighth, after Poteet had departed, Victoria added an insurance run. The first two batters, Urabe and Alex DeGoti, both singled. They were both sacrifice bunted to second and third base by Smith. That was before Alex Real hit an RBI groundout.
The third Victoria run was charged to Joe Arlt, who gave up the leadoff singles before being lifted in favor of Walla Walla’s Jonathan Harris.
Victoria starter Ty Provencher pitched the complete game, giving up the five hits and a single run while walking one and striking out nine. Provencher threw 135 pitches in the effort.
“(Ty) Provencher is good. He locates his fastball on both sides of the plate,” Biagi said. “He has a slider that offers a significant change of speed and good movement.
“He has a changeup that you’ve got to deal with. You’re really talking about getting up to the plate and try to arrive on time.”
The Sweets played again Saturday night against Victoria at Borleske, and finish the three-game series at 5 p.m. tonight. Kelowna comes to town for a three-game set Monday, before Walla Walla finishes off the regular season in Bend next weekend.
Victoria 3, Walla Walla 1
Victoria 001 100 010 — 3 5 2
Walla Walla 010 000 000 — 1 5 3
Provencher and D. Schuknecht. Poteet, Arlt (8), Harris (8) and Martinez.
HR — Vic: J. Schuknecht.
Hits — Vic: DeGoti, J. Schuknecht, D. Schuknecht and Urabe (2); WW: Skrbec, Paulson, Paulino 2, Martinez.