WALLA WALLA — After going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position the night before, the Sweets got back on the winning track Thursday night with key base knocks from the top of the order and a great start from pitcher Chris Lovejoy en route to a 4-2 victory at Borleske Stadium.
The top five batters in the Sweets order were a combined 8-for-16 with all four RBIs on the night and Lead-off hitter Kramer Lindell starred with a hit-by-pitch, a home run, a double and two runs scored.
“We had some really good at-bats throughout the game,” Sweets manager J.C. Biagi said. “We had a lot of really quality at-bats.
“We had base runners on all night and lot of opportunities,” Biagi said. “That is kind of what you hope for. You get the right pitch, the right time, it could be a totally different ball game.”
Walla Walla’s No. 3 hitter, John Skrbec, had three hits — two singles and a double — to go with an RBI.
Lovejoy cruised through four innings before giving up a solo home run in the fifth to Elks batter Derek Dixon, which gave Bend a 1-0 lead.
The Sweets evened the game at one on a shot off Lindell’s bat that flew into the trees past the left-field fence.
Lovejoy lasted seven innings and struck out eight. He scattered four hits, gave up a run and walked one.
“We’re glad, happy with the win,” Biagi said. “Chris Lovejoy pitched his tail off tonight and, by in large, it was a pretty good effort all the way around.”
Bret Helton knocked in a run in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Skrbec, to give Walla Walla a 2-1 lead.
The Elks got back-to-back one-out doubles off reliever Jake Campeau in the eighth inning, but Campeau, a Wa-Hi and Walla Walla Community College product, worked a fielder’s choice and a flyout to strand what would have been the go-ahead run at first.
Walla Walla retook the lead for good in the eighth with a two-run rally sparked by Lindell’s double with one out gone.
In the next at-bat Jarod Gonzales walked and Lindell advanced on a passed ball to put runners on first and third.
Skrbec hit a flare into right field for a base hit, scoring Lindell and sending Gonzales to second base.
An out later, Matt Mendenhall knocked in Skrbec with a RBI single to cap the rally and give Walla Walla its winning margin.
The Elks burned through three arms in the inning and six in the game.
Closer Sean-Luke Brija shut the door on the Elks in the ninth, retiring them in order to earn the save.
The Sweets (1-1) committed no errors in the game.
“A couple of different guys hit the ball well and we’re still trying to figure out this order,” Biagi said. “We want to know where guys make sense for us, and I think defensively we’ll be good. We’ve got some guys who can pick it in the infield and guys in the outfield who can move around.
“As we fill out this roster, we’ll figure out where everybody fits in and what kind of role they’re going to play.”
The Sweets host Bend again tonight at 7:05 for the rubber match of the three-game series at Borleske.
Walla Walla 4, Bend 2
Bend 000 010 010 — 2 6 0
WW 000 010 12x — 4 11 0
Puckett, Grantham (6), Highberger (7), Mack (8), Jordan (8), Borde (8) and Servais. Lovejoy, Campeau (8), Brija (9) and Miroglio.
HR — Bend: Dixon. WW: Lindell.
Hits — Bend: Spivey 2, Bohn, Giusti, Dixon 2. WW: Lindell 2, Skrbec 3, Helton, Mendenhall 2, Paulson, Mirogolio, Southall.