Sweets rout Cowlitz, halt 5-game slide

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WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla Sweets rebounded from a five-game West Coast League losing streak Thursday, pounding 10 hits — including two triples and two doubles — to beat the Cowlitz Bears 10-2 here at Borleske Stadium in front 1,003 fans on ladies night.

“We were good offensively,” Sweets coach J.C. Biagi said. “A lot of runners, a lot of opportunities and we cashed in. We had a much better approach at the plate than the last two nights.

“There were a lot of really well-hit balls and really good at-bats.”

After Walla Walla starter Cody Poteet held the Bears scoreless to start the game in the top of the first, the Sweets rallied to score four runs in the bottom.

Sweets second basemen John Skrbec hit a stand-up triple to the left-field fence to jump-start the team. He then scored on a wild-pitch by Cowlitz starter Drew Merlo.

Jarod Gonzalez followed with a walk and Nick Vilter singled. That was before Matt Mendenhall hit a two-run triple over Bears center fielder Derrick Salberg’s head.

Catcher Renae Martinez knocked in Mendenhall with a double to give Walla Walla the 4-0 lead after an inning.

Poteet held Cowlitz hitless for four innings, allowing just two base runners on a hit-by-pitch and a Sweets error.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Sweets added a single run after Jono Herkins singled and stole second. Herkins scored on a Gonzales RBI single.

In the top of the fifth, Bears catcher Konnor Armijo broke up Poteet’s no-no with a single up the middle. He was quickly erased on a ground-ball double play.

In the bottom of the fifth and sixth, the Sweets added two and three runs in their turns at bat.

Skrbec had a two-run double in the fifth and Luke Persico highlighted the sixth with a two-run single to push the Sweets into double-digits scoring.

Poteets night came to an end after the seventh inning — a two-run home run by Cowlitz’s Slate Miller saw to that — but not before racking up six strikeouts on the night.

“Tonight he (Poteet) was on,” Biagi said. “He was down in the zone and he got his breaking ball over. He was in control all the way.”

Poteet now has 18 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings and he lowered his earned run average to 3.86 for his first three starts for the Sweets.

Danny Zandona and Josh Wagner each pitched an inning for Walla Walla in relief, striking out two and giving up zero runs.

Next up for the Sweets (20-16) is a three-game series beginning tonight at 7 p.m. against the third-place Bellingham Bells, who trail Walla Walla by just half a game in the WCL North standings. Walla Walla’s win Thursday kept it a game behind Wenatchee for first place in the North as the AppleSox picked up a 5-4 victory over the Kelowna Falcons.

The Sweets will throw lefty Sean Silva (3-0, 3.20 ERA) in game one of their series with Bellingham.

“Bellingham is a good club,” Biagi said. “They’ve got a lot of arms and they swing the bats well. The top of the order is as good as any in the league. They’re really good.

“It’ll be a nice matchup. We took two of three at their place. We’ll have to hold our ground.”

Walla Walla 10, Cowlitz 2

Cow 000 002 000 — 2 3 1

WW 410 123 00X — 10 10 1

Merlo, Johnson (4), Rogina (6), Wilson (8) and Armijo. Poteet, Zandona (8), Wagner (9) and Martinez, Reay (8).

HR — Cowlitz: Miller.

Hits — Cowlitz: Miller, Martinez, Armijo; WW: Skrbec 2, Gonzales, Vilter, Mendenhall, Wylie, Martinez, Persico, Herkins, Bozett.

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