The Gem’s Chet Thompson dives back to first as Walla Walla’s Matt Mendenhall tries to get the backdoor out at first.
KLAMATH FALLS — It took three innings, but once the hits started to fall, the Klamath Falls Gems unloaded and picked up a 13-7 win over Walla Walla’s Sweets Wednesday at Kiger Stadium.
“Hitting’s contagious,” catcher Dempsey Grover said.
Grover’s run-scoring double in the fourth inning put the Gems on the scoreboard. By the time Jack Karraker hit a two-run single to cap the inning, Klamath Falls had taken a 4-2 lead, one it stretched to 8-2 before a wild finish in the series opener between the two teams.
The Sweets added a pair of runs in the eighth inning to drag themselves back into the contest, but Klamath Falls rattled off five more scores in the bottom of the inning to build an insurmountable cushion for Gems reliever Jackson Lockwood.
“It was a good day,” Grover said after he drove in five runs with three hits.
“I was seeing (the ball) all right, and got some pitches,” he said. “It helps when the guys around you are hitting.”
Grover’s double to give the Gems their first hit narrowly missed leaving the ballpark.
His next hit left little doubt and bounced off the light pole in left field, a three-home run that was the team’s third this season.
“With two strikes, I just wanted to sit on something off-speed. (Walla Walla pitcher Jonathan Harris) threw me a change-up and I was able to capitalize.”
Karraker, one of the 10-day players who will remain with the team for the season, also added three hits for the Gems who played Wednesday’s game short-handed and needed all nine position players to complete the game after an injury to Nick Fisher.
“It’s nice to know you get to stay,” Karraker, the younger brother of Gems head coach Mitch Karraker, said. “It’s easier to relax and play. The Gems brought their bats. It only takes one little knock to get a team rolling.”
With Fisher’s injury, both Klamath Falls pitchers batted in the game, and Lockwood hit two singles in a pair of at bats.
Every hit, and every run, counted when the Sweets scored five runs in the final two innings. Walla Walla had 11 hits Wednesday, five of which were extra-base hits. John Skrbec and Mike Paulson both hit two-run homers for the Sweets.
Kramer Lindell added three hits for Walla Walla, which fell to 2-2 in playing its first road game this season.
The Gems host Walla Walla again at 6:35 p.m. today in the second game of the three-game series.
Gems 13, Sweets 7
Sweets 200 000 023 — 7 11 2
Gems 000 431 05x — 13 15 2
Harris, Wagner (6), Silva (7), Campeau (8) and Miroglio. Adams, Lockwood (6) and Grover.
HR — WW: Skrbec, Paulson; KF: Grover.
Hits — WW: Lindell 3, Skrbec 2, Paulson, Mendenhall, Gonzales, Silva, Miroglio. KF: Trezek 2, Brewster, Grover 3, Adams, Lockwood 2, Panaccione 2, Karraker 3, Tittle.