Elks elude Sweets in season opener

Down 2-0 with two outs in the second inning, Walla Walla second baseman Reggie Southall appeared to get a piece of Bend's Derek Dixon just inches from the bag.  Dixon was called safe on the play and the visiting Elks spoiled Opening Day for the Sweets with a 4-1 win.

Down 2-0 with two outs in the second inning, Walla Walla second baseman Reggie Southall appeared to get a piece of Bend's Derek Dixon just inches from the bag. Dixon was called safe on the play and the visiting Elks spoiled Opening Day for the Sweets with a 4-1 win. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — Offensive ineptitude proved to be more than the Walla Walla Sweets could overcome Wednesday night during their season-opening West Coast League baseball game with the Bend Elks at Borleske Stadium.

Walla Walla hitters went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and suffered a 4-1 defeat before an announced crowd of 2,170.

Bend scored a pair of runs in both the second and ninth innings on two-out, two-RBI hits. Derek Dixon broke a 0-0 tie in the second with a two-run single.

“That was a clutch base hit for him,” Bend head coach Joe Dominiak said. “He swings the bat very well.”

The Elks were nursing a 2-1 edge in the ninth before Justin Bohn took the outcome of the game out of harm’s way with a triple that plated the final runs of the contest.

“He is that capable and that kind of hitter,” Dominiak said.

After leaving a runner at third base in the first inning and another at second in inning two, the Sweets produced their only run of the game in the home half of the third. Jarod Gonzales ripped a one-out three-bagger into the right-center field gap and scored on an infield grounder off the bat of John Skrbec.

Walla Walla left one runner on in both the fourth and fifth innings.

Frames seven and eight were even more frustrating for the home team.

The Sweets had runners at first and second with one out in the seventh. But Kevin Hawk popped out to third base and Gonzales was retired on a deep fly to center.

Walla Walla got its first two batters on in the eighth inning against Bend reliever Scott Kinzler. But hopes for at least a game-tying run went by the boards after Matt Mendenhall flew out to left, Mike Paulson struck out, and Scott Silva hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice.

Kramer Lindell led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk issued by Bend’s Michael Jordan, but was erased when Reggie Southall banged into a 3-6-3 double play.

Hawk grounded to first to end the game.

“We had a few opportunities, but too many K’s,” said Walla Walla coach J.C. Biagi, whose batters were fanned by Elks’ pitchers nine times. “We had a couple of them (strikeouts) with guys on base and that’s not going to get it done. We’ve got to figure out combinations offensively.

“We need to continue to create opportunities and get guys on base,” Biagi said. “Sooner or later, something’s bound to happen.”

Taylor Elman earned the win with five innings of two-hit ball. Collin Nilson threw a scoreless sixth before Kinzler and Jordan closed out the combined five-hitter.

“Our pitching staff did a great job,” Dominiak said. “Every one of them did well.”

The teams play the middle game of their three-game series today at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Chris Lovejoy is expected to start for the Sweets, Biagi said.

Bend 4, Sweets 1

Bend 020 000 002 — 4 8 0

Sweets 001 000 000 — 1 5 1

Elman, Nilson (6), Kinzler (7), Jordan (9) and Servais; Harris, Silva (5), Lawhead (8) and Hawk.

HR — none.

Hits — Bend: Dixon 2, Gill, Giusti, Bohn, Spivey, Wildung, Bohn; Sweets: Skrbec, Gonzales, Mendenhall, Southall, O’Neil.

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