KELOWNA, B.C.— The Walla Walla Sweets bounced back from a 12-1 defeat in the first game of a West Coast League baseball doubleheader here Tuesday to defeat Kelowna 6-1 in the nightcap and salvage a split of the rain-forced twin bill.
Monday’s first game of the three-game series was rained out, forcing the teams to play a pair of games Tuesday. They meet here again tonight before Walla Walla moves on to open a weekend series at Bellingham on Thursday.
Spencer O’Neil’s solo home run, his first of the season, gave the Walla Wallans a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning of Monday’s opener. But Kelowna erupted for five runs in the bottom of the inning and controlled the game from there.
Walla Walla responded to the game one loss with early offense in game two.
After going down in ordeer in the first, right fielder Mike Paulson walked with one out in the second inning. First baseman Matt Mendenhall moved him to second base with a single to right-center field and center fielder Luke Persico followed with a double to right, driving Paulson home to put Walla Walla ahead 1-0. Left fielder Kris Paulino drove in Mendenhall with a sacrifice fly to left field for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, third baseman Jarod Gonzales notched his first home run of the year, a shot over the right-centerfield wall, padding the Sweets lead at 3-0.
Kelowna responded with a leadoff double in the home half of the third from Robbins. He stole his fourth base of the year and came home when Olsen drove a single up the middle, but that was the Falcons’ lone run in the nightcap as Sweets starter Bret Helton got out of the inning. Helton won his second game of the season in 5 1/3 innings of work, allowing one earned run on eight hits, walking two and striking out five.
Walla Walla tacked on three more in the fourth as the trio of Paulson, Mendenhall and Persico teamed up again. Paulson led off the frame with a hustling double to left field and moved to third base as both Mendenhall and Persico were hit with pitches. Paulino notched his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to left field for a 4-1 Sweets lead before second baseman Reggie Southall singled to left, driving in Mendenhall and Persico and capping the score at 6-1.
Closer Sean-Luke Brija slammed the door in the seventh with two looking strike outs at the top of the Falcons’ order before inducing a soft ground out to second base to end the game.
Walla Walla improves its record to 10-7, staying 1 1/2 games out of first place. Kelowna falls to 4-13 with the split of the doubleheader.
Walla Walla 010 000 0 — 1 5 0
Kelowna 051 231 x — 12 16 1
Arlt, Dillman (4), Wagner (5), Jones (6) and Martinez; Savage, Dunnington (7) and Johnson.
HR — WW, O’Neil; Kelowna, Porter, Klemm.
Hits — WW: Vilter 2, O’Neil, Martinez 2; Kelowna: Robbins 2, Robertson, Scaggari, Porter 3, Tracy, Johnson 4, Andreychuk, Klemm, Kolk, Benjamin.
Walla Walla 021 300 0 — 6 5 0
Kelowna 001 000 0 — 1 8 0
Helton, Zandona (6), Brija (7) and Miroglio; Mouton, Dunnington (4), Spence (7) and Lavallee.
HR — WW: Gonzales.
Hits — WW: Gonzales, Mendenhall, Persico, Southall, Paulsen; Kelowna: Robbins, Kolk, Olson 2, Lavallee, Tracy, Johnson, Andreychuk.