By Walla Walla Sweets
KELOWNA, B.C. – Walla Walla held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 but Kelowna scored the final 12 runs, defeating the Sweets, 14-3, on Thursday night at Elks Stadium.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the third, the Falcons (9-5) scored two runs to take a 4-3 lead and then added four runs in the sixth and six runs in the eighth for the big win. It is the fourth-straight game that the Sweets (4-11) have allowed 10 or more runs in a game.
In the first three games of the series, the Falcons are hitting .448 as a team and have scored 39 runs. Thursday, picked up 18 more hits and currently lead the league with an astounding .340 average.
Things looked good for the Sweets on Thursday as they got on the board in the second. Spencer O'Neil drew a leadoff walk, Ben Ruff followed with a single through the right side and Alex Bonczyk moved both runners into scoring position with a sac bunt. J.J. Robinson batted next and drilled a 3-2 pitch just inside the bag at third for a two-run double.
Kelowna responded immediately as a leadoff walk and a pair of singles loaded the bases with one out. Kyle Moses and Patrick Johnson followed with back-to-back walks to force home two runs and tie the game. Sweets starter Tyler Roberts got out of further trouble thanks to a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Walla Walla came back in the third and regained the lead thanks to small ball. Kris Paulino singled to center to start the inning and advanced to second as the ball bounced by the center fielder. Brett Jacobs then moved him to third and Nick Vilter made it 3-2 with a sharp single through the right side.
That was it for the Sweets however as the Falcons would rattle off the final 12 runs. They started the third with three consecutive hits, with Jerry McClanahan's double tying the game. Ryan Stadjuhar's fielder's choice ground ball would make it 4-3 and give the Falcons a lead they would not relinquish.
Walla Walla had several chances to tie the game over the next three innings but squandered multiple chances. In the fifth, Paulino walked with one out but was caught stealing. Jacobs was then hit with two outs but was picked off to end the inning. Then, in the sixth, Ruff started a two-out rally with an infield single. He took second as the throw to first was wild, went to third on a balk but Kelowna starter Brandon Marris got a strikeout to leave him there.
Using that momentum, the Falcons came out in the sixth and plated four runs to take a commanding lead. Andrew Firth made it 5-3 with an infield single and Stadjuhar followed with a three-run home run to left, his second in as many games.
The Falcons iced the game in the eighth with six runs on seven hits. McClanahan started the inning with a home run and Cameron Alvarado had a big two-run double.
Making his third start, Roberts worked through control issues to toss five gutsy innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits but worked out of two key bases-loaded jams. After leaving them loaded with the double-play ball in the second, he struck out Alvarado in the fifth to leave them loaded.
Offensively, Ruff and Robinson both collected a pair of hits. Batting leadoff for the second-straight game, Paulino reached base three more times. He worked two walks and had a single. In three games, he has reached base safely in 11-of-14 at-bats.
The Sweets and the Falcons will finish their four-game series on Friday night at 6:35 p.m. Hunter Virant will make his first start of the summer for the Sweets.