By Walla Walla Sweets
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Shane Zeile's two-run triple broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Sweets went on to a 6-2 victory over Bend on Wednesday at Borleske Stadium.
Thanks to their four-run eighth inning, the Sweets (8-13) picked up their first victory over the Elks (9-10) this season.
The Sweets trailed 2-0 at one point in the game but battled back to tie the game with single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. It was still tied at 2-2 in the eighth when Brett Jacobs doubled down the right field line with one out. The Elks then walked Spencer O'Neil intentionally to put runners on first and second for Zeile. A night after his potential game-winning drive was caught in right-center, Zeile drove the first pitch from reliever Trevor Hildenberger all the way to the right-center wall to score both runs with a three-bagger. Chance Kopacz then singled to center with two outs to score Zeile and Ryan Cooper followed with a triple into the right field corner to make it 6-2.
Walla Walla's pitching staff put the Sweets in position to have a chance in the eighth. Kyle Kingsley started and gave up just two runs on five hits over six innings. The only blemishes were a Shawn O'Brien solo home run in the second and an O'Brien single in the fourth. Doug Ashby entered in the seventh and found himself with runners on second and third and just one out after a Darian Ramage double. Ashby buckled down, getting Bo Walter to fly to center and Shaun Chase to pop up to first to end the threat.
Making his first appearance in over two weeks, DJ Smith found himself in a similar situation in the eighth inning. He hit two of the first three batters to put himself in a hole but then got a fly to left and ground ball to second to end the inning. Ben Ruff pitched the ninth and struck out the side to close the door.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, O'Neil led off the inning with a double to left-center field. He moved to third on a wild pitch and came in to score as Nick Vilter hit into a double play. With the Sweets pitching staff keeping the game close, Walla Walla tied the game in the sixth. Alex Bonczyk led off with a double, went to third but was thrown out at home as the Sweets attempted a safety squeeze. It left the Sweets with runners on first and second with two outs and Vilter came through with an RBI single through the right side to tie the game.
Making his fourth start of the season, Kingsley left runners on second and third in the first, allowed a home run in the second and was nearly tagged again in the third if not for his defense. Joey Mathews led off the inning with a long fly to left that Cooper tracked to the wall and then jumped and caught it as it was heading over the fence. Kingsley's defense helped him again in the fifth as Zeile charged a ground ball and threw home on the run to get Mathews trying to score.
O'Neil reached base all four plate appearances and scored three runs. Cooper picked up two hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
The Sweets and Elks finish their series on Thursday night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Tyler Roberts will get the ball for the Sweets in the finale.