Walla Walla Sweets shortstop Nick Vilter takes out Kitsap's Andy Lack at 2nd base then tries for two with the throw to 1st base during WCL action Wednesday night at Borleske Stadium. Vilter's throw came up just short of completing the double as the Sweets went down to a 5-1, 10-inning loss to the visiting Bluejackets.
Photo by Jeff Horner.
WALLA WALLA — When opportunity knocked on Wednesday night, it was the visiting Kitsap BlueJackets who answered the door during the middle game of their three-game West Coast League baseball series with the Walla Walla Sweets at Borleske Stadium.
Daniel Orr broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the top of the 10th inning and Justin Gheorghe followed moments later with a three-run home run as Kitsap went on to a 5-1 victory to even the three-game set at one win apiece.
Walla Walla’s extra-inning setback, coupled with Wenatchee’s 8-1 home triumph over Victoria on Wednesday, means the Sweets (13-10), AppleSox (13-10), and HarbourCats (11-8) will enter action today in a virtual tie for first place in the WCL North standings. Victoria holds the edge over Walla Walla and Wenatchee by percentage points, .579-.565.
Kitsap and the Sweets both tallied a run in the third inning of Wednesday’s contest. Alex McKeon gave the BlueJackets a 1-0 lead with an RBI grounder down the left-field line before Walla Walla equalized on a wild pitch.
Walla Walla starting pitcher Bret Helton threw seven innings of five-hit baseball to keep his team in contention. He walked four and struck out 10.
“Location with my fastball was pretty good,” Helton said. “My slider gave me a great way to start and finish (a hitter). When I did have my change-up, I liked (going) to it.”
“He was strong,” Walla Walla pitching coach Mark Michaud said. “He came out and got ahead of hitters. He had all three pitches going. Any time you do that, you have a chance to dominate.
“He worked quick and fast,” Michaud said. “That helped keep the hitters off balance. Between Bret and (catcher) Dominic (Miroglio), they called an outstanding game.”
Kitsap’s Spenser Watkins (three innings), Kyle McKay (two innings), and Cody Thompson (three innings) teamed up to scatter eight hits in as many innings.
Sweets hurler Chris Lovejoy was effective in relief of Helton. He fanned the side in the eighth inning and got out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the ninth.
In the BlueJackets’ 10th, Danny Sheehan led off with a double against Walla Walla reliever Danny Zandona. Sheehan moved to third on a grounder to second base by McKeon.
Orr greeted Sweets lefty Joe Arlt with his tie-breaking hit, and Gheorghe iced the game with his long fly to left.
“Joe made a very good pitch, but give (Gheorghe) credit,” Michaud said. “He (Arlt) threw a 3-2 change-up that was down.”
Walla Walla had ample chances to score late in the game, but was unable to deliver. It left runners at first and second in the sixth, seventh, and ninth innings, and at second and third in the 10th.
Kitsap pitcher Brandon Luper earned the win by denying the Sweets in innings nine and 10.
The rubber match of the series commences today at 3:05 p.m.
Kitsap 5, Sweets 1
Kitsap 001 000 000 4 — 5 11 0
Sweets 001 000 000 0 — 1 9 0
Watkins, McKay (4), Thompson (6), Luper (9) and McKeon, Dhanani (10); Helton, Lovejoy (8), Zandona (10), Arlt (10) and Miroglio.
HR — Kitsap: Gheorghe.
Hits — Kitsap: Jewett 2, Sheehan 2, Kata 2, McKeon, Bodenhamer, Orr, Torres, Gheorghe; Sweets: Mendenhall 3, Lindell 2, Vilter, Paulino, Miroglio, Gonzales.