VICTORIA, British Columbia — Walla Walla Sweets designated hitter Renae Martinez, who was 0-for-4 at the plate Monday night, was asked about the thought process as a hitter trying to get back into the groove offensively.
The answer was simple: “It happens.”
The Sweets offense, for the second consecutive night, launched two home runs Tuesday at Royal Athletic Park for an 11-2 win over the Victoria HarbourCats.
Martinez got into the groove, going 3-for-5 in Tuesday night’s victory.
Walla Walla third baseman John Skrbec went deep in the first inning with a two-run shot as first baseman Matt Mendenhall hit a two-run blast of his own in the ninth, lifting the Sweets (18-11) back into first place in the WCL North.
Left fielder Kramer Lindell, who homered Monday night, started Tuesday’s game with a leadoff walk.
Skrbec gave Walla Walla starting pitcher Matt Hall some early run support — and the Sweets a 2-0 advantage — as he followed with his second homer in as many games. It was also his third home run of the year, tying Lindell for the team lead.
HarbourCats starting pitcher Will Ballowe lasted just two innings as the Sweets chased him in the third.
Right fielder Beau Bozett has had some success bunting for a base hit this week, but popped up his attempt in the third. The ball fell into the intersection of Bozett and the base path, disrupting the play and forcing Ballowe to drop the ball and commit the first of two HarbourCat errors.
With Bozett on first, Lindell and Skrbec each walked, forcing Ballowe out of the game.
Right-hander Scott Kuzminsky came on in relief to face Sweets shortstop Nick Vilter with the bases loaded, but he lined out to third base on the first pitch.
Center fielder Mike Paulson followed with a two-run single to put Walla Walla ahead by four runs. With Martinez in the lineup as the DH, he notched a single to center field in front of a diving Justin Barba. That sent Skrbec in to score for a 5-0 Walla Walla lead, while Martinez happened to cruise into second on the throw. Paulson also scored later, making it 6-0 Sweets.
Walla Walla second baseman Scott Silva began the fourth inning with a double as Skrbec walked two hitters later. Both men scored on Paulson’s single to left-center as Walla Walla took a commanding 8-0 lead.
Hall worked two quick outs in the sixth, but HarbourCats first baseman Robby Nesovic launched a solo home run to left field, putting Victoria on the board.
A walk and back-to-back singles drove a second run home as Walla Walla still led 6-2, but Hall was relieved by right-hander Josh Wagner after 5 2/3 innings of work. Wagner struck out his first hitter from the bullpen to end the frame.
Three more runs came in at the top of the ninth inning, starting with Martinez’s one-out single to right field. Miroglio sent him home with a double to the left-center field wall, and Mendenhall crushed the first pitch he saw deep into the night for a two-run shot, his second home run of the season.
Hall collected his third win of the year as he struck out five over 5 2/3 innings.
Walla Walla is alone in first place in the WCL North Division, one game ahead of the Wenatchee AppleSox (17-12). Only the Bend Elks (20-11) have a better record overall in the West Coast League.
The series finale starts with a 7 p.m. first pitch Wednesday with Sweets right-hander Bret Helton getting the start.
Walla Walla 11, Victoria 2
Walla Walla 204 200 003 — 11 11 1
Victoria 000 002 000 — 2 7 2
Hall, Wagner (6), Lawhead (9) and Miroglio. Ballowe, Kuzminsky (3) and Real.
HR — WW: Skrbec, Mendenhall; Vic: Nesovic.
Hits — WW: Skrbec, Paulson 2, Martinez 3, Miroglio, Mendenhall, Silva 2, Bozett. Vic: Richards, Real, Nesovic, Schuknecht, Lewis, Russell, Burba.