WALLA WALLA — Bad things happen if you give a team extra outs.
Kelowna found that out the hard way at breezy Borleske Stadium Thursday night in West Coast League baseball action.
In a scoreless tie, Walla Walla’s Ryan Littlefield was down to his last strike with two outs and no one on in the Sweets’ second.
Falcons pitcher Austin Lambright got Littlefield to chase a pitch for strike three, but the ball eluded the Falcon catcher and Littlefield reached first.
Nine batters later, the Sweets had scored eight times to take control with an 8-0 lead heading to the third.
Walla Walla went on to win the rubber match of the three-game series with a 12-4 win.
“We start that thing (the eight-run rally) with a strikeout in the dirt with two down,” Sweets coach J.C. Biagi said. “It’s baseball stuff and it’s going to happen. We were fortunate. Without that we’re in a much tighter ballgame.”
After Littlefield reached, Jarod Gonzales worked a walk, and Parker Osborne singled home Littlefield with the Sweets’ first run.
And then Kelowna’s wheels fell off.
Three Falcon errors and a Jordan Frabasilio two-run single later, the Sweets led, 6-0.
Russell Crippen capped the rally with a deep drive over the left-field trees for a two-run home run and an 8-0 Walla Walla lead.
“The pitcher (Lambright) is a buddy of mine that I go to school with,” Crippen said. “We’ve been going back and forth this week talking to each other. I knew he would challenge me with a fastball. I jumped on it as soon as I saw it out of his hand, and the wind helped a little. I got enough bat on the ball, it was nice.”
The Sweets added on.
Frabasilio plated two more with a single in the third.
With two outs in the fourth, Littlefield reached on a Falcon error and the Sweets took advantage. Gonzales singled in Littlefield and Osborne doubled home Gonzales for a 12-1 Sweets lead after four.
On the other hand, the Falcons had no answer for Sweets starting pitcher Conner O’Neil. O’Neil yielded a run on an error, a passed ball, a ground out and a wild pitch — and that was it. O’Neil went six innings, allowed one hit and struck out 12 to even his record at 1-1.
“Conner was the big difference tonight,” Biagi said. “He was lights out.”
With Osborne and Frabasilio leading the charge with three hits each, the Sweets pounded out 14 hits in squaring their WCL record at 3-3.
“That (offense) was good,” Biagi said. “Great approach at the plate. We sent a lot of guys to the dish and got a lot of base runners on. We flat executed. There’s not been a game where we haven’t made pitchers work, and built pitch counts. Tonight, we kind of cut it loose all at one time.”
The win marks the first series win for the Sweets and sends Walla Walla off on its first road trip looking for a third consecutive win.
“It feels good to get a series (win),” Crippen said. “We’re starting to gel and getting to know everyone. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
The Sweets open a three-game series in Corvallis Saturday.
“(Winning) builds belief in your team and the guys around you,” Biagi said. “It’s about everybody tugging on the rope in the same direction. Winning helps that process happen faster as we go into Corvallis, which is always good. It’s going to be a good series.”
Sweets 12, Kelowna 4
Kelowna 001 000 300 — 4 5 4
WW 082 200 00X — 12 14 2
Lambright, Mills (2), Mason (5) and Chapman, Schuman (5); O’Neil, Mathews (7), Greisman (8), Porras (9) and Ferrante.
HR — WW: Crippen.
Hits — Kel: Church, Kamachi, Lane, Smith, Biro; WW: Mendenhall 2, Osborne 3, Frabasilio 3, Crippen 2, Littlefield, Gonzales 2, Skrbec.