WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla Sweets tuned up for the West Coast League baseball season with an 8-0 exhibition win over their alumni team here Thursday night.
“It (the game) was a good opportunity for us to get some at bats,” Sweets Manager J. C. Biagi said. “It was real important for us to get to see guys. We got a chance to sort things out before jumping right into league play.”
The Sweets didn’t tear the cover off the ball to open this one, but five soft hits worked to produce a 4-0 Sweets lead after two. Infield hits from Andrew Mendenhall and Aldo Ferrante and a wild pitch accounted for a first-inning Sweets run. The Sweets tagged on three more in the second as Zach Rapacz blooped a hit into no man’s land in right, Mendenhall knocked in a run on a looper to right center, and Russell Crippen dropped a soft liner into center field for a two-run single, and the Sweets were never in trouble the rest of the way.
Mendenhall, following Ryan Littlefield’s double, knocked Littlefield in with a sharp single to left in the third, and Jordan Frabasilio knocked in two more with a bullet single to right in the fourth. The Sweets built a 7-0 lead after four.
Five Sweets pitchers and the Sweets defense combined to blank the alumni on eight hits. A diving catch by Rapacz in right led to a double play to end a bases-loaded, one-out Alumni threat in the second. Mendenhall made a one hand grab of a Jarod Gonzales drive to right center in the third. After Connor Holbrook opened the Alumni fourth with his second hit of the game, Frabasilio, at shortstop, fielded Justin Windsor’s hard grounder up the middle stepped on second and gunned Windsor out at first. A 1-6-3 double play stopped the Alumni in the seventh.
“On the mound, it’s going to be important for us to throw strikes,” Biagi said. “We fell behind hitters and pitch counts started to mount (tonight) that could be troublesome for us. The outfield is pretty solid. We’ve got some guys that can run around.”
The Sweets, led by Mendenhall with three, Crippen, Frabasilio and Cooper Hummel with two each, finished with 14 hits from nine different players on the night.
The Sweets send Kennewick’s Conner O’Neil to the mound tonight against Bellingham in the WCL opener.
“It was a good opportunity to get reps, and recognize some of the guys that have been here in the past,” Biagi said of the 8-0 win. “We’ll just take it from here.”
Sweets 8, Alumni 0
Alumni 000 000 000 — 0 8 2
Sweets 131 201 00X — 8 14 2
Arlt, Lovejoy (4), Watson (6), B. Biagi (8) and Holbrook, Fraser (8); Hobson, Campeau (5), Greisman (7), Hansen (8), Fisher (9) and Ferrante.
HR — none.
Hits — Alumni: Holbrook 2, Roberts, Paulson, Kopacz, Arlt, Sani, Fraser; Sweets: Mendenhall 3, Ferante, Crippen 2, Rapacz, Littlefield, Nixon, Frabasilio 2, Hummel 2, Browne.