Sunday, July 31, 2011

Right back in the hunt

Walla Walla vs. Kelowna

- Walla Walla finds itself in second place in the East Division for the first time since June 30.  WW won 4-3 and Bellingham dropped their sixth-straight, 3-2, to Wenatchee.
- The Sweets eighth-inning rally was their fourth of the summer.  They scored four in the eighth against Klamath Falls, three in the eighth against the Portland Toros and one in the eighth against Kelowna in June.
- Andrew Mendenhall's two-run double was his second game-winning hit this summer. He broke a 4-4 tie against KF with a two-run single in the eighth inning.
- The victory also gave the Sweets 19 wins, surpassing last year's win total.
- Tyler Billen, Derek Peterson and Simon Anderson all extended scoreless streaks last night. Billen has thrown two straight scoreless innings, Peterson put his to five-straight scoreless without a hit and Anderson has not allowed a run over his last seven appearances spanning nine innings.
- Kevin Hawk extended his hitting streak to six with a fifth inning single.
- Brett Watson will look to improve on his last start against Kelowna tonight.  He walked five over three innings earlier this summer.
- Tonight's pitching matchup is a rematch of the June 27 Sweets-Falcons game won by the Falcons 8-7  in 14 innings.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Not Helping Ourselves

Walla Walla vs. Kelowna

- The Sweets have had their fair share of opportunities to catch Bellingham in the playoff race over the last week but have only shaved off two games.  The Bells have lost five straight but the Sweets have lost three of their last six.
- Last night, Ryan Richardson threw his 2nd-straight complete game but a solo home run in the seventh won the game for Bend. Richardson struck out nine and allowed just three hits.
- Alex Stanford picked up two more hits and is now three away from 50 on the season.  He is second in the league in batting average.
- The Sweets and Falcons met for three games in Kelowna at the end of June and the Falcons took two-of-three.
- Tim Culligan, tonight's starter, is in search of his fifth win of the summer.  He has allowed just one run over his last three starts, a span of 24 innings.  He has struck out 14.
- He pitched seven innings of one-run ball against Kelowna and earned a no-decision as the Sweets won in extra-innings.
- The Sweets have walked a league-worst 114 times but have been hit 44, second best.  Walla Walla has thrown 37 wild pitches, second behind Kelowna's 56.
- The Falcons have walked 208, the most in the league but have struck out 301, the second most.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Closing in

Walla Walla vs. Bend

- Walla Walla's 3-1 victory on Thursday night coupled with Bellingham's extra-inning loss to Cowlitz has the Sweets just a game back of the final playoff spot in the East.
- Aaron Hoverson picked up his first victory of the summer with his third quality start.
- Zach Wentz was hit twice last night and has been hit nine times this summer, good enough for second in the league.
- Alex Stanford had three hits for the fourth time this summer and also has a four-hit game.
- With a double in the eighth inning last night, three of Scott Gottschling's last five hits have been for extra-bases.  He homered twice against Klamath Falls over the weekend.
- Denver Chavez reached four times last night without collecting a hit.  He reached twice on errors, walked and was hit by a pitch.  He also scored a run for the third straight game.
- Andrew Mendenhall has collected a hit in 22 of his last 27 games.
- Austin Heaps has hit safely in seven of his last eight games overall.
- After playing three games against Kelowna, the Sweets will face Bend again on Tuesday in Bend.
- Walla Walla lost eight of nine at home before facing Kitsap  last week.  The Sweets have now won four of their last five at Borleske Stadium and are 9-11 at home this summer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another missed opportunity

Walla Walla vs. Bend

- The Sweets missed out on another opportunity to gain ground on Bellingham, losing 2-1 to the Bend Elks on Wednesday.
- W2 is now 3-7 on the year in one-run games.
- It also started a string of 15 straight days of games to close out the summer.
- Jacob Overbay allowed just two hits after the first inning last night but the two Elk runs were enough.
- Derek Peterson pitched two scoreless innings last night and has now thrown four scoreless innings over his last two appearances.
- Austin Heaps worked a ten-pitch walk in the ninth but saw his 5-game hit streak come to an end.
- Alex Stanford had his six-game hit streak snapped as well.
- Aaron Hoverson starts five days after giving up seven runs over 2.1 innings against Klamath Falls.  He is still searching for his first victory.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stars are shining

Walla Walla vs. Bend

- Walla Walla sent six players to the All-Star game and they all played a key role in the East's 4-2 victory.  Ryan Richardson and Tim Culligan tossed scoreless innings and Brett Watson pitched the final two innings to earn the save.
- Alex Stanford had the first hit of the game, an RBI triple in the third and also scored.  Andrew Mendenhall kept the game 2-1 in favor of the East in the fifth as he threw out a runner from right trying to score.  Elliot Stewart pushed the lead to 4-1 with a two-run double in the seventh.  Stewart also competed in the home run derby and hit eight total home runs and advanced to the semi-finals.
- The Sweets enter a three-game series with Bend after taking two-of-three from Klamath Falls.  WW rallied from 4-2 down to win 7-4 on Sunday.  Denver Chavez broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth with an RBI triple.
- WW is 5-1 in their last six games and has moved within two games of Bellingham for the final playoff spot in the East.  The Bells hold the tiebreaker.
- Tonight's game is the first of the season between the Sweets and the Elks and the teams will play six times over the next week and a half.
- Tonight also starts a six-game homestand.  Kelowna comes to town on Saturday to start a three-game series.
- Jacob Overbay will make his second start of the summer tonight.  The right-hander gave up four runs over six innings in his only other start.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sweets hit rough water in K. Falls

Walla Walla at Klamath Falls

- The Sweets four-game win streak was snapped last night with a 10-7 loss to Klamath Falls.  Offensively, the Sweets swung the bat well but committed four errors.
- Jimmy Litchfield had his longest outing of the summer, throwing 5.2 innings of long relief.  Aaron Hoverson lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up seven runs.
- Alex Stanford's two-hit night has moved him into third in league average at .320.
- The loss was not terrible for the Sweets but did not help.  Kelowna did their part with a 10-7 victory over Bellingham but the Sweets were unable to gain any ground.
- With 16 games remaining, the Sweets are 3 back of the Bells for the final playoff spot in the East Division.
- Scott Gottschling has now homered in two-straight games and has tied Elliot Stewart for the team-lead with four.
- Andrew Mendenhall extended his road hitting streak to 13 games, two shy of Breland Almadova's 15-gamer.
- In their final 16 games, the Sweets will face Bend six times.  Walla Walla has not played Bend yet this summer.
- Walla Walla needs just two wins to tie last year's total of 18.  The Sweets were 18-30 in their inaugural season.
- Last night was the first time this month that the Sweets have give up double-digit runs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Playoff push starts strong

Walla Walla vs. Klamath Falls

- The Sweets won their fourth-straight game, the second such streak this summer, with a 8-3 victory over the Gems on Friday night.
- Tim Culligan picked up his fourth win and is now tied for second in the league in that category.  Over his last three starts, Culligan has allowed just one run on ten hits over 30 innings.  He pitched six scoreless last night allowing one hit and striking out six.
- Walla Walla won just there second game of the summer when they have traveled that day.  They defeated Kitsap after traveling from Bellingham two weeks ago and after eight hours on a bus won yesterday.
- The Sweets are 9-5 this summer when games are decided by three runs or more.  They are just 7-16 in games decided by three runs or less. 
- Although his 13-game hitting streak came to an end last week at home, Andrew Mendenhall has still hit in 12-straight road games.  That total is three away from Breland Almadova's league-leading 15-game streak earlier this summer.  With that comes a team-leading .339 (19-56) average on the road.
- Jacob Overbay has allowed only three unearned runs over 17.2 innings of relief and features a 1.52 ERA over 7 appearances.
- With his two-run home run last night, Scott Gottschling has driven in 10 runs over his last nine games.
- Once a problem, the Sweets are now hitting .226 against left-handers this summer.
- Zach Wentz walked three times on Friday and is now tied for the team lead with 11.  Wentz had walked just twice over his first 19 games but has now walked nine times in his last ten games.  His OBP has risen from .295 to .350 in that span.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wrapping up the homestand

Walla Walla vs. Portland

- The Sweets lost their first non-league game of the summer last night, 4-2, to Portland.  They finish their non-league schedule tonight against the Lobos at 7:05 p.m.
- Sean Santschi threw 2 innings of scoreless relief and has now thrown 3 scoreless innings over his last two outings and has struck out six.
- After tonight's game, WW will play their final 18 games against WCL teams.  Nine are at home and nine are on the road. They will play the first three road games this weekend as they travel to Klamath Falls, OR for a weekend series with the Gems.
- The Sweets have three off days over the next week including tomorrow.  After Sunday's game in K. Falls, WW has Monday and Tuesday off for the All-Star break.
- Tuesday's All-Star game will be broadcast on 1490 ESPN Walla Walla as well as  Myself and Chris King, the voice of the Wenatchee Applesox will call the game from Corvallis.
- For the second straight non-league series the Sweets will throw two pitchers from the same school.  Prior to last night's game, Geoff Soja and Drew Fittry, both from Niagara, started the two-game series against the Stars.  With Eric Yardley scheduled to make his first start of the summer tonight, the Sweets will have started two pitchers from Seattle University.
- After tonight, the Sweets will not return to Borleske Stadium until next Wednesday when they host Bend to start a six-game homestand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sweeping away the BlueJackets

Walla Walla vs. Portland

- The Sweets completed their first-ever season sweep of a team by winning all six games against the Kitsap BlueJackets.  Chance Kopacz completed the sweep with a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth.
- The Sweets hit .282 and scored 30 runs in six games against Kitsap this summer.
- Kopacz continues to come through in the ninth inning and has now driven in three runs in his last three ninth inning at-bats over the last six games.
- The 2011 West Coast League All-Stars were released today and the Sweets will send six representatives.  Brett Watson earned the fan's vote and will be joined by Ryan Richardson, Tim Culligan, Alex Stanford, Elliot Stewart and Andrew Mendenhall.
- The six selections are fourth most in the WCL behind Wenatchee (10), Corvallis (8) and Cowlitz (7).
- Walla Walla plays their final two non-league games the next two days.  They have won the previous four over the Portland Stars and Toros. 
- Last summer, the Sweets went 3-1 against Portland-based teams.
- Walla Walla is now third in the league with an ERA of 2.69.
- Cory Mack will make his first start of the summer tonight after making five appearances out of the bullpen.  He has allowed just one run over his last four appearances and just one in his last eight innings.  In total, he has give up just three runs over 11.2 innings.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two-out Triples Triumphant

Walla Walla vs. Kitsap

- Kevin Williams' two-run triple in the first and Scott Gottschling's three-run triple in the third were the big blows as the Sweets defeated Kitsap 6-2 on Sunday.
- Walla Walla has won all five of the meetings so far between teams and will look to sweep the season-series tonight.
- Williams and Gottschling have crushed the ball against Kitsap, going a combined 15-38 with 15 RBI.  Williams is 8-21 with three doubles, two triples and seven RBI and Gottschling is 7-17 with a double, triple, home run and eight RBI.  The seven and eight RBI totals comprise the majority of Williams' and Gottschling's RBI total of 11.
- As a team, the Sweets are hitting .292 against Kitsap over five games with 13 extra-base hits.
- Over the last eight games, Williams has seen his average rise from .162 to .235.  Over that span he has gone 10-31 with three doubles, two triples, a home run and eight RBI. 
- Gottschling has had the same kind of revival, going 10-27 over the same period with two doubles, a triple, a home run and eight RBI.  His average has gone from .174 to .250.
- Tonight's starter, Trent Allianic, has already faced Kitsap once.  The right-hander from Hawaii threw eight scoreless innings in a start last week in Bremerton.  He gave up six hits and struck out six.
- Allianic has thrown at least eight innings in his last two starts, going eight innings against Cowlitz on June 30.  He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out six in a 3-1 Sweets loss.  It was only the second start he has given up multiple runs.
- Kitsap starter Blake Golding also pitched in that series, taking a loss as he allowed three runs on nine hits over five innings.
- Brett Watson, last night's winning pitcher, was the top vote-getter in the All-Star voting and will be the fans representative for the Sweets at next week's All-Star game in Corvallis.  He is 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Much needed domination

Walla Walla vs. Kitsap

- The Sweets got exactly what they needed on Saturday; a dominating pitching performance a fortuitous bounce.  Ryan Richardson pitched a complete game five-hitter and Chance Kopacz's ground ball to short with the bases loaded and two outs bounced away from the shortstop allowing two runs to score.
- The win snapped a four-game losing streak and a four-game losing streak at home.  Walla Walla is still just 2-8 over their last ten home games.
- Alex Stanford picked up three more hits, the third time this year he has had three.  The trifecta pushed to .321 and moved him into fourth in the league.
- Andrew Mendenhall had two hits for the second straight night.
- Denver Chavez has only four RBI on the summer but three of the four have come in key moments.  His sac fly against Kelowna on June 28 tied the game at 1-1 in the eighth inning, a game the Sweets eventually won 6-2.  On July 3, his sac fly in the third stood as the only run until Wenatchee tied the game in the ninth and won in the 13th.  And yesterday, his sac fly in the 2nd inning gave the Sweets the 1-0 lead early on.
- Walla Walla's pitching staff has been dominant in the month of July, posting a 2.06 ERA in 15 games.  The ERA is the second-lowest over this period of time.
- Thanks to his three hits against the southpaw last night, Stanford leads the Sweets in average against lefties at .310 (13-42).
- It appears the Sweets are destined to give up a run in the sixth inning lately.  On the year, they have allowed 17 runs in the sixth inning, 11 coming over the last ten games.  In that span the Sweets have allowed a total of 28 runs.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What the Bell!

Walla Walla vs. Kitsap

- It was just one of those series.  The Sweets managed just four runs over the course of three games, all losses, against the Bellingham Bells.
- Last night, Tim Culligan was dominating, retiring the first 16 Bells he faced.  He allowed just one run on four hits but took the loss as Adrian Sampson retired 17 straight at one point, eventually losing the shutout in the 9th.  Culligan has allowed just two runs over his last three starts totaling 23 innings.
- Walla Walla swept the BlueJackets last weekend, 5-1, 4-1 and 10-5.  That sweep kept Kitsap on a slide that eventually reached 10 games.
- With Culligan's brilliant outing, the Sweets now feature four of the top ten pitchers ERA-wise in the West Coast League.  Brett Watson (1.50), Aaron Hoverson (1.59), Ryan Richardson (1.61) and Culligan (1.86).
- Kitsap starter Richie Mascheri is just outside at 2.03 and has thrown a league-high 57.2 innings this summer.
- He allowed three runs over seven innings and struck out 7 last week against the Sweets but was saddled with the loss.
- Zach Wentz was 5-9 against Kitsap last weekend and Scott Gottschling and Kevin Williams each drove in five runs over the three games.
- Ryan Richardson starts tonight for the Sweets and is looking for his first win since opening night.  In his last two starts the Sweets have been shutout both times, 1-0 and 2-0.  He faced Kitsap once last summer, giving up three runs on six hits over eight innings and earned a no decision in a 4-3 Sweets win.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where are the bats?

Walla Walla vs. Bellingham

-Continuing a season-long trend, the Sweets picked up just two hits a night after recording 13.  They were two-hit and shutout 3-0 by the Bells.
- The win gave Bellingham the season-series with the Sweets with the final game being played tonight.
- So far, the series has played out quite similar to last week's three-gamer.  Bellingham won the first game of the both series by three runs, 4-1 and 5-2, with the Sweets leaving over ten men on base, 11 and 13.  They also won game two in each series via the shutout, 2-0 and 3-0.  Will the Sweets repeat their 3-0 shutout from a week ago??
- Kalani Brackenridge has quietly put together a seven-game hitting streak.  The infielder from Hawaii is 9-28 over the stretch after going 1-30 following his return after his thumb injury.
- Walla Walla started the season 5-4 but have gone just 7-16 since.  Of those 16 losses, 13 have come by three runs or less.
- Tonight's starter, Tim Culligan, is in search of his fourth victory of the summer.  The victory would put him into second place in the league in that category.  Over his last two starts, he's given up just one run on nine hits over 15 innings.  He picked up his third win with eight scoreless innings against Kitsap last week.
- Bellingham's starter, Adrian Sampson, has been the best pitcher in the league thus far.  He's second in strikeouts (50) and first in ERA (0.81).  Drafted in the 15th round by the Florida Marlins, Sampson has struck out at least seven in every start this summer.
- He's just 3-2 on the year but in he hasn't allowed a run in four of his six starts.  He gave up five runs on five hits in five innings against Bend on July 9.
- Bellingham has also won five straight games on the road this summer after starting 1-8 away from home.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweets do all but score

Walla Walla vs. Bellingham

- Usually 13 hits means a victory.  That was not the case for the Sweets on Wednesday as they left 13 runners on base and lost 5-2.  It was the second time this year the Sweets had collected 10+ hits and failed to win against Bellingham, dropping a 4-1 decision despite recording 11 hits last Tuesday.
- It was the 10th time this year the Sweets had left 10 men or more on base in a game.
- In their last seven home games, the Sweets are 1-6.  They started the summer at 4-2 but have struggled since.  They were swept by Wenatchee, lost two-of-three to Cowlitz and lost last night.
- The loss also dropped the Sweets three games behind Bellingham for the final playoff spot in the East.  The Bells have won three of the four games so far this summer.
- Alex Stanford became the third Sweet to collect four hits this summer, going 4-4 with a walk.  The big night bumped his average back up to a team-leading .310.  He also became the first Sweets batter to have 100 at-bats.
- Scott Gottschling is working on a four-game hit streak and has collected eight hits over those four games.  The streak has helped raise his average from .174 to .250.  Over the last six games, he's 9-23 with three doubles, a home run, six RBI and two runs scored.
- In July, the Sweets have been much better, going 6-6 so far.  They have the second best ERA in that stretch at 2.15 and are hitting .250 (3rd best) as a team.  Bellingham is 8-3 and has a 1.14 ERA over the same period.
- In games decided by three runs or less, the Sweets are 5-14.  In games decided by three runs or more, the Sweets are 7-5.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Boys are Back in Town

Walla Walla vs. Bellingham

- Boy, does it feel good to be home again.  The Sweets return to Borleske Stadium for the first time in 11 days and open an eight-game homestand starting with Bellingham tonight.
- Bellingham took two-of-three from the Sweets last week in Bellingham.  The Bells won 4-1 and 2-0 before the Sweets gained a 3-0 victory in the third game.
- Richie Ochoa, the Bells starter tonight, shutout the Sweets on four hits over six innings last Wednesday.  He struck out five.
- Andrew Mendenhall brings a 13-game hitting streak into the homestand, the longest in franchise history.
- Over the past seven days, three Sweets have stood out amongst the rest.  Zach Wentz is hitting .538 (7-13) in five games, Mendenhall .381 (8-21) and Scott Gottschling .333 (7-21).
- Sweets starter Aaron Hoverson is coming off one of the best starts for Walla Walla this year.  He went eight shutout innings and gave up just two hits against Wenatchee last Sunday.
- The Sweets had a successful road trip going 5-4 and put together their first winning streak of the season, a four-game win streak that included a sweep of Kitsap.
- Kalani Brackenridge, Alex Stanford and Mendenhall all had four hits in the three-game series with the Bells.
- Chance Kopacz is glad to get home, he's hitting .310 (13-42) in 12 games at Borleske Stadium.
- Walla Walla enters the series two games behind Bellingham for the final playoff spot in the East Division.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Triple Play!

Walla Walla at Wenatchee Applesox

- The Sweets complete their nine-game road trip with a single game in Wenatchee.  The two teams split the first two games of the series last week; the Sweets winning 5-4 and Wenatchee 2-1.
- Walla Walla has won four straight games and picked up their first series sweep of the summer with yesterday's win over Kitsap.
- In that game, Kevin Williams snared a line drive to start a 6-3 triple play in the third inning that helped the Sweets maintain a 3-2 lead.  Williams also had two hits and drove in four runs.
- Brenton Allen hit his first home run of the summer and drove in his first two runs of the summer as well.
- It was the second time this summer that the Sweets had scored 10 runs or more in a game.  The first came in a 10-6 win over Klamath Falls.
- W2's offensive upswing has brought them back to the pack in league average.  In eighth place and hitting .222, the Sweets are seven percentage points behind fourth place Klamath Falls.
- WW starter Jacob Overbay has not allowed an earned run in 13.2 innings of WCL-play and will be facing Wenatchee for the second time this summer.  He tossed 2.2 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief on June 18.
- Wentachee third baseman Adam Nelubowich has a league-leading six home runs and has homered in the last three league games.  He homered three times and drove in nine runs in Wenatchee's three-game sweep of Cowlitz last week.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's a winning streak!

Walla Walla at Kitsap BlueJackets

- The Walla Walla Sweets have their first winning streak of the summer after their 5-1 victory on Saturday night.
- Andrew Mendenhall's single in the eighth inning extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest active streak in the West Coast League.  It also ties Elliot Stewart's franchise record.  Stewart hit in 12-straight games from July 11-29 last summer.
- Trent Allianic became the third-straight Sweets pitcher to throw eight innings.  Brett Watson tossed eight scoreless on Thursday, Tim Culligan tossed eight scoreless on Friday and Allianic gave up one run on six hits over eight innings last night.  Over the last ten games, the Sweets have received seven quality starts (6IP, 3R or less) from their starters.
- Simon Anderson earned the save with a scoreless ninth and has now thrown six scoreless innings over his last four appearances.  He has allowed just three hits and has struck out six.
- After a rough start fielding the baseball, the Sweets recent defensive prowess has pushed them over .961.  Once leading the league in errors, the Sweets' 44 errors are the fourth-least in the West Coast League.
- The win on Saturday also pushed the Sweets record to 4-3 on their current nine-game road trip.
- W2 is one of only two teams that have not scored 100 runs this summer and one of three teams that has struck out over 200 times.
- In the month of July, the Sweets are 5-4 with a 1.74 ERA.  The team ERA is the lowest in the league in the month.
- Kevin Williams has doubled in back-to-back games and has made just one error in his last 30 chances defensively.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two straight feels twice as nice

Walla Walla at Kitsap BlueJackets

- The Sweets won consecutive games for the first time this summer with their 5-1 victory on Friday night.  They look for their first winning streak of the summer tonight.
- Andrew Mendenhall has hit in 11-straight, the longest current streak in the West Coast League.
- Zach Wentz had four hits in a game for the first time this summer and disappointed all in attendance.  If he had struck out the fans would have received free burritos from Taco Bell.
- Austin Heaps started the summer 0-15 against left-handers but has gone 3-8 against southpaws.
- The Sweets have made just eight errors in their last nine games.  Over the first six games of their road trip, they have made just four errors.
- The 15 hits and four doubles were both season-highs for the Sweets in last night's game.
- Walla Walla is hitting .226 on the road this summer and just .205 at home. Mendenhall's .326 average is tops on the team and Alex Stanford is not far behind at .309.
- Tim Culligan's third win matched Jacob Overbay's mark from last summer.  Overbay went 3-2 in the Sweets inaugural season.
- Walla Walla entered Friday as one of the two teams to not have double-digit wins.  They now have 10, leaving Kelowna as the only team yet to reach the teens.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A gem always helps

Walla Walla at Kitsap Bluejackets

- The Sweets got exactly what they needed on Thursday night from starter Brett Watson.  The lefty delivered eight scoreless innings and Walla Walla's offense was able to give him three runs.
- Walla Walla's 3-0 victory gave them a victory in the three-game series with Bellingham and sends them to Kitsap on a positive note.
- Andrew Mendenhall extended his hitting streak to ten games with an RBI single and Alex Stanford had two more hits. He has two hits in three of the last four games he has played.
- The shutout victory also lowered the Sweets team ERA to 2.95.  It is the first time it's been below 3.00 since the opening weekend of the summer.
- Despite the victory, Walla Walla's offense is still second-worst in the league.  They have a .210 average and have scored 80 runs, both eighth in the league.  They have also struck out the second-most in the league with a 192 strikeouts and have walked a league-low 70 times. 
- Kitsap won four of the six games against the Sweets last year including sweeping Walla Walla at the Kitsap Fairgrounds.
- Sweets starter Tim Culligan will have his third crack at three victories Friday night.  He enters at 2-2 with both of his losses coming against the Wenatchee Applesox.
- He has struck out 19 in 22.2 innings this summer and has only walked nine.
- The Bluejackets enter the series with a five-game losing streak but feature the league's third-best ERA at 2.36.  They are also second in the league with 38 steals.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time to turn things around

Walla Walla @ Bellingham

- To say the Sweets have struggled at the plate this summer would be an understatement.  Those struggles continued on Wednesday as they collected just four hits and were shutout for the third time in ten games.
- This season, the Sweets have been held to three hits over less over the first five innings on 13 different occasions.  They have also been picked off 13 times.
- Another staggering stat is that they have allowed a first inning run in seven of the past ten games.
- Andrew Mendenhall extended his hitting streak to nine games, the longest hitting streak for a Sweet this year.
- Walla Walla is just 3-10 on the road this summer.
- Tonight's starter for Bellingham, Kyle Schepel, helped Grand Valley St. get to the D2 National Championships by going 11-0.
- In the last 10 games, the Sweets are just 3-7 but have received six quality starts (6IP 3R or less) from their starting pitchers.
- Ryan Richardson has allowed just three runs over his last 12 innings but has lost both starts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Clutch hits missing for Sweets

Walla Walla @ Bellingham Bells

- Tuesday was another example of the Sweets struggling to produce in key situations.  They left 11 men on base, wasting an 11-hit attack.  The games the Sweets have won this year are the games in which they have collected those key hits. And as you can imagine, the games they have lost have been games when they just can't seem to get the big one.
- We have been talking about Andrew Mendenhall a lot lately and he has quietly put together an eight-game hitting streak.  After starting 2-19, the Oregon Duck has gone 11-33 over the last eight games. 
- Cory Mack was the big headline on Tuesday.  The left-hander from Seattle came on in the third with the Sweets trailing 3-0 and rattled over six innings of relief.  He allowed just one run on two hits, baffling the Bells in his longest outing of the season; spring and summer combined.  The outing lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 3.68.
- Sabermetrically speaking, Alex Stanford leads team in the runs created category with 10.468.  Used to see how many runs a player is creating with his offense, the most basic calculation uses H+BBxTB/AB+BB.  The next highest on the Sweets is Chance Kopacz at 8.565.  Wenatchee's Payden Cawley-Lamb leads the league with 20.769.
- Another fun stat to work with is secondary average.  It is calculated by using this formula: TB-H+BB+SB-CS/AB. It is a ratio of bases gained per at-bat.  It is common that the number will higher than your batting average.  A score of .500 is very good. Only two players on the Sweets have secondary averages higher than their regular average; Elliot Stewart and Brenton Allen.  Stewart is hitting .222 but has a secA of .365 and Allen's secA of .275 is 75 points higher than his .200 regular batting average.  And despite hitting .311, Stanfords's secA is just .162.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Time for a turnaround?

Walla Walla at Bellingham Bells

- Some wins just feel better than others and last night was one of those wins.  The Sweets rallied from 4-2 down in the eighth to win 5-4.  They scored a single run in the eighth and then two in the ninth to claim the victory. 
- It was the first time the Sweets had won a game when trailing after the eighth inning.  They had tied the game at 7-7 against Kelowna in the ninth last week but were unable to win the game.
- Elliot Stewart had three hits for the Sweets last night and also collected his fourth home run.  That total leads the league and eight of his 13 hits have been for extra-bases this summer.
- Andrew Mendenhall picked up two more hits last night and also scored two runs.  Over the last five games, Mendenhall is hitting .375 (6-16) with four runs scored.
- Stewart's eighth inning home run was the Sweets league-leading ninth home run of the summer.
- Tuesday's game with the Bells starts a three-game series against the team Walla Walla finds itself behind in the East Division standings.  Walla Walla trails Bellingham by 2.5 games for second place in the East.
- Walla Walla has not won back-to-back league games all summer.
- The series is also a matchup of the two worst-hitting teams in the league.  Walla Walla is hitting .211 and Bellingham is just above the Mendoza-line with a .201 average.
- Bellingham, however, as the league's third-lowest ERA at 2.46. 
- The Bells come into the series with a six-game win streak.  They won their first three games, lost 13 of their next 15 and now have won six straight.  The last five wins have all come by a run, including the last three wins needing just five total runs to win. 
- Former Sweets Danny Poplawski and Marshall Yanzick are members of the Bells this summer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh so frustrating

Walla Walla at Wenatchee: Game 2

- It has been that kind of summer so far for the Sweets. Aaron Hoverson allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings, handing a 1-0 lead to Ryan Richardson in the ninth.
- For the third time this season, the Sweets were unable to hold a lead in the ninth.  And for the second time, it resulted in a loss.
- Zach Wentz was a bright spot for the Sweets, putting together solid two-out at-bats and finishing the night with two hits.
- Kevin Williams also continued to swing a hot bat.  He had two more hits and is 5-13 over his last three games after starting 1-17.
- Austin Heaps' infield single in the 12th was his first hit against left-handed pitchers this summer.
- The Sweets spent their morning at the gym in Wenatchee.  About two-thirds of the team headed over to Gold's Gym to get in their workouts.
- Ryan Richardson walked his first batter of the summer in the ninth inning.
- Walla Walla is now 2-8 on the road and have fallen 2.5 games behind Bellingham for 2nd place in the East Division.
- Prior to his leadoff double in the third inning, Kalani Brackenridge had gone 1-26 since coming back from a thumb injury.  He started the summer 4-10 in league play and 6-15 overall.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nine game road trip!

Walla Walla Sweets @ Wenatchee Applesox

- The Sweets have arrived in Wenatchee are ready to start their nine-game road trip.  It is the longest road trip of the summer for Walla Walla and it starts at the home of the league's best team.
- What was all that almost there talk the other night? A night after the Sweets played one of their best games of the summer, they were trounced at home 9-0.  W2 managed just two hits for a sold out Borleske Stadium.
- Alex Stanford, Sean Santschi and Tim Culligan are all returning to the field where they played last summer and won a West Coast League title.
- Speaking of Paul Thomas Stadium, the wind is gusting and blowing straight out to right.
- The Sweets are the only team in the league that does not have an OBP above .300 at .293.
- Walla Walla managed just 11 hits in the three game series earlier this summer.
- Alex Stanford and Kevin Hawk were both 2-6 in the series against Wenatchee.
- Wenatchee won 14 straight games at one point this summer but have gone 6-3 over their last nine.
- Breland Almadova has hit in 18-straight, setting a Wenatchee program record.  He's hitting .375 with 33 hits in 88 at-bats.
- Alex Phillips was great against the Sweets earlier this summer, allowing just one run over seven innings.  He struck out six and has won four straight decisions after losing on Opening Night.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Winning always feels good

Walla Walla Sweets vs. Cowlitz Black Bears

- Kevin Williams could not have said it better last night in his postgame interview.  The shortstop had two hits and when asked afterwards if it felt good to win he absolutely agreed.  His two hits were a key part of the Sweets 7-1 victory and it appears he is beginning to break out of the slump that has engulfed him to start the season.
- Chance Kopacz also did something last night that you don't see very often.  Battling back from a bruised left forearm, Kopacz had four hits.  His first three hits all came on the first pitch of his at-bat before he took a first-pitch ball in his fourth at-bat.
- The Sweets collected five extra-base hits last night and just seemed locked in throughout.  Austin Heaps doubled twice, Andrew Mendenhall and Williams each tripled and James Campbell also doubled.
- Pitching-wise, Walla Walla got their third-straight solid start.  Tim Culligan allowed just one run over seven innings on Tuesday, Trent Allianic allowed two runs on three hits over eight innings Thursday and Daniel Jewett allowed a run over six innings last night. 
- We mentioned it last night about getting closer and closer to putting it together and last night's game only furthered that judgement.  The Sweets made just one error, got solid pitching and collected several timely hits.
- One concerning stat is that the Sweets have given up a run in the first inning in each of their last four games.  Getting behind early is never a good thing.
- Tonight is the final home game for the Sweets before hitting the road for nine straight.  A victory would be a huge uplifter to start the road trip that will see them face East Division-leading Wenatchee, Bellingham, a team the Sweets are battling for 2nd place, and the Kitsap Bluejackets.
- It is also Armed Forces Night at the ballpark and the fans in attendance will be treated to a postgame fireworks show. 
- Speaking of fans, there is expected to be close to a sellout tonight.  With temps hovering around 90 degrees, the fans of Walla Walla have two reasons why a baseball game is a good idea!
- As for Cowlitz, the Black Bears had their eight-game win streak snapped last night and are trying to get back on the horse tonight.
-Their starter, Jeff Gold, has faced the Sweets once this season and it accounted for his only loss.  He gave up four runs on six hits over four innings as W2 won 9-3.
- Brent Graham leads the Black Bears against the Sweets, hitting .313 (5-16) with a .450 OBP.  Billy Flamion has scored five runs and driven in five against W2.

Friday, July 1, 2011

So Close

Walla Walla vs. Cowlitz 7-1-11

- After last night's game it feels like the Sweets are on the verge of putting it all together.  There have been very few nights this summer when the Sweets have done everything right; hit well, pitch well and play solid defense.  Those nights appear to be on the way with the Sweets performance over the past week.
- Walla Walla has lost nine of their last ten and eight of those have been by three runs or less.
- After Trent Allianic's first start of the summer against Corvallis on June 5 a lot of his teammates talked about his competitiveness level and his will to win.  The right-hander showed that last night, allowing two runs on three hits over eight innings.  He struck out six and walked only one.
- Andrew Mendenhall continues to find his groove for the Sweets, hitting safely in four straight games.  His solo home run last night tied the game at 1-1 and he made an amazing sliding catch in left-center that kept the game tied in the fourth.  He has shown power, speed, range and a very strong arm so far this summer.
- Brenton Allen may only be hitting .222 but his .429 on-base percentage is miles ahead of any other Sweets batter.  He had his first two-hit game of the summer last night and is starting to show us some of the tools that the Phillies saw, drafting him last spring. 
- Yesterday started 12 games in 12 days for the Sweets, arguably their toughest test of the season.  They will play one more home game on Saturday before embarking on a nine-game road trip on Sunday. 
- Cowlitz is currently one of the hottest teams in the league, winning eight-straight games.  They sit a game behind West Division leader Corvallis.
- The Black Bears are a quick team, their 32 stolen bases ranking them second in the league.
- Their starter tonight, Stuart Fewel, was 9-1 this spring at Lower Columbia and pitched in the league last summer for the Wenatchee Applesox as a high school senior.