WALLA WALLA – Sweets fans at Borleske Stadium had plenty to cheer about here Tuesday evening, with Walla Walla starter Connor Dillman picking up the win over eight shutout innings.
Dillman pitched 7 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, striking out six, walking no Kelowna Falcons and hitting one batter in a 6-0 West Coast League victory.
The victory leaves the Sweets in a tie with Wenatchee, a 6-2 victor over Victoria, in the WCL standings. Walla Walla wraps up its home regular-season schedule against Kelowna at 7 p.m. tonight, before the final road series at Bend this weekend.
Wenatchee and Walla Walla still have a rained-out game from last week to play a tie-breaker if needed. Third-place Bellingham (25-25) now trails the tie for first by 2 ½ games.
“The story of the night was Connor Dillman, right?” Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said following Tuesday’s win, Walla Walla’s fourth in a row. “That guy was really good. One run was enough with the way he threw. That was really a special outing for him. He was called upon as a guy that hasn’t started for us, but has started before in college.”
Walla Walla reliever Jesse Houser closed the game to complete the combined two-hit shutout, and seven of the nine Sweets’ batters had a hit, while all nine of them reached base safely.
John Skrbec highlighted the Sweets’ 12 hits with a two-run homer over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field in the third inning.
“We swung it very well tonight,” Biagi said. “It felt like it was a much-needed kind of breakthrough game offensively for us. We have stayed afloat offensively. We have done just enough lately to keep us alive and keep us in position where we can win.”
Walla Walla leadoff hitter Kramer Lindell walked twice, including once with the bases loaded to drive in a run.
Hitters two through five did a lot of damage — they were 8-for-16 at the dish — with two RBIs and a hit-by-pitch.
Catcher Dominic Miroglio, in the No. 5 slot, was the most helpful with a bunt single and two RBI singles in the game.
Clean-up hitter Jarod Gonzales was 2- for-4 at the plate, and Nick Vilter added a pair of singles.
Jono Herkins joined the hit parade with a clean base-hit.
Jake Wylie mustered a base on balls while No. 9 hitter Beau Bozett had a single and double.
Walla Walla plated two runs on three walks, a bunt single by Miroglio and a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the second inning.
A third run was scored by Vilter after he led off with a single and trotted to second base on an error on the Kelowna left fielder, Robby Witt, on the play in the third inning. Miroglio singled him into score.
The same combo — Vilter and Miroglio — set the table and knocked in a single run in the fifth, just in front of a Skrbec two-run home run to push the score to 6-0.
The top two teams in each division make postseason play.
Tonight’s regular-season home finale includes postgame fireworks at Borleske Stadium.
Walla Walla 6, Kelowna 0
Kelowna 000 000 000 — 0 2 1
Walla Walla 021 030 00x — 6 12 0
Sloan, Myers (3), Spence (7) and Lavallee. Dillman, Houser (9) and Miroglio.
HR – WW: Skrbec.
Hits – Kel: Church, Robertson; WW: Herkins, Vilter 2, Gonzales 2, Miroglio 3, Skrbec, Mendenhall, Bozett 2.