Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do or die for Sweets

Walla Walla @ Corvallis (WCL Championship game 2)

- The Sweets season is on the line tonight when they face the Corvallis Knights in game 2 of the West Coast League Championship series.  The Knights won 14-3 in game 1 on Tuesday night.
- Game 2, and 3 (if necessary), will be at Goss Stadium in Corvallis.  Game time is 6:40 p.m. for both games.
- Tuesday's attendance of 2,380 was a Sweets record and WCL championship series record.
- Corvallis owns the league's best home record this summer, going 20-7 during the regular season and a perfect 2-0 so far in the postseason.
- The Sweets were 13-14 on the road this summer thanks to a great finish.  They started 3-10 but went 10-4 over the final 14 games.  They did not lose a road series losing two-of-three to Bellingham in early July.
- Denver Chavez is 3-5 in two games this postseason.  On Tuesday he doubled home a run in his first at-bat and then was either hit or walked over his next four plate appearances.
- Kalani Brackenridge and Alex Stanford have each collected six hits. 
- WW is hitting .318 in the playoffs but Corvallis is stroking the ball at a .336 clip.
- Kramer Scott has an RBI in each of the Knights' four playoff games.
- Kyle Anderson and Max Beatty, tonight's starters, have both faced the opposing team.  Anderson gave up three runs on eight hits over five innings in a 5-2 Sweets loss on June 24.  The three runs all scored in the first inning.
- Beatty faced the Sweets during the opening series of the season and pitched great.  He had a perfect game through 6.1 innings before Chance Kopacz broke it up with a single.  He finished his night allowing just one run, a Stanford home run, on three hits and struck out seven.  He won six games during the regular season.  He started the Knights' playoff opener against Bend last Friday and took the loss, giving up three runs on six hits over 5.2 innings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweets playing for WCL Championship

Walla Walla vs. Corvallis (Game 1 of WCL Championship Series)

- The Walla Walla Sweets won their sixth game of the season when trailing after seven innings on Saturday night.  The come from behind victory erased a 4-0 deficit and eliminated the Wenatchee Applesox.
- It's the Sweets first appearance in the WCL Championship in just their second year of existence.
- Their opponent, the Corvallis Knights, needed three games to defeat Bend in the West Divisional Series.  This is Corvallis' fourth championship appearance, having made three-straight from 2007-09.  They won their only WCL Championship in 2008.
- The Knights won the season series between the two teams 4-2.  WW took two-of-three to open the season but Corvallis won all three games at Goss Stadium in late June.  Five of the six games were decided by three runs or less.
- Alex Stanford and Austin Heaps each had 12 hits in the season series and combined to score seven of the Sweets 17 runs.
- Heaps had a big two-run double to make it 4-2 on Saturday and also scored the game-tying run on Brenton Allen's eighth-inning triple.
- Kalani Brackenridge had five hits in the series against Wenatchee and has hit in four-straight games.
- Brett Watson will start game one for the Sweets and it will be the third time he has faced the Knights.  He started on June 4 against them and gave up three unearned runs over six innings in a 3-2 Sweets loss.  He threw 3.2 scoreless innings of relief in his next outing on June 23.
- W2 will face left-hander Dylan Stuart from UC-Riverside.  Stuart was the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and shutdown the Sweets on June 23.  He allowed just one run (unearned) over 6.1 innings.
- The Sweets are 19-15 overall at home this summer.  They finished 14-14 against WCL teams.  Corvallis was 17-10 on the road, the second-best mark in the league.
- The Knights are also 25-6 since being swept by Bend on July 3-5.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Game 1 Success

Walla Walla @ Wenatchee (Game 2)

- The Sweets have just arrived in Wenatchee and are preparing for game two of the East Divisional Playoff with the Wenatchee Applesox.
- In the first playoff game in team history, the Sweets pounded out 14 hits and scored 9 runs to win 9-4.  A four-run third erased a 1-0 deficit and a three-run sixth put the final touches on the big win.
- The win moves Walla Walla within one game of their first-ever appearance in the West Coast League Championship round.
- Chance Kopacz, Alex Stanford and Kalani Brackenridge all had three hits for the Sweets.  Kopacz has now hit in five-straight games, including three multi-hit games.  In that span he has two doubles, a triple and a home run.
- It was the ninth time that Stanford has had three hits in a game this summer and Brackenridge's second, the first since a three-hit game on July 5.
- Kopacz also made several excellent defensive plays in right field.  He made a leaping over the should catch, pulled back a home run in right-center and made a sliding catch.
- Ryan Richardson allowed back-to-back hits to start the game, a triple and double, but rebounded and allowed just one other hit until the eighth inning. He earned the first victory in Sweets playoff history.
- Tim Culligan, WW's game two starter, was a member of last year's championship team in Wenatchee and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings in a 5-2 Wenatchee loss against Bend.
- The right-hander was 4-3 on the summer but the Sweets were 7-3 when he pitched.  He's given up eight runs over his last 12 innings after allowing just one in the previous 22.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Playoff Time!

Game 1: Walla Walla vs. Wenatchee

- Coming off back-to-back wins over Wenatchee to end the regular season, the Sweets will host the Applesox in game one of the East Division Playoffs.
- Wenatchee took six of the nine games this season vs. the Sweets and outscored them 45-19.
- Game 2 and game 3 (if necessary) will be in Wenatchee on Saturday and Sunday.
- Against the Applesox this summer, the Sweets were led by Zach Wentz (.364) and Andrew Mendenhall (.310).  Chance Kopacz had four doubles and drove in four runs.
- Payden Cawley-Lamb was 23-41 (.561) against WW this summer, including three hits in each game earlier this week.  Adam Nelubowich hit .483 and Pat Valaika drove in a team-high eight runs.
- Wenatchee starter Alex Phillips will make his fifth appearance against the Sweets this summer and has given up just three runs in his previous 18 innings.  That includes just one walk and 16 strikeouts.
- WW starter Ryan Richardson has only faced Wenatchee once and it was as relief pitcher on July 3rd.  He allowed one run over his two-inning outing.
- Wenatchee has won the last two WCL titles and four of the first six in WCL history.
- Sean Santschi, Alex Stanford and Tim Culligan were all members of Wenatchee's 2010 championship team.
- In his last five games, Andrew Mendenhall has 10 hits and is hitting .435.  He had three hits on Wednesday.
- The two teams finished the regular season 2-3 in team ERA.  Walla Walla was 2nd at 2.62 and Wenatchee third with an ERA of 2.64.
- Richardson's 1.53 ERA was the lowest in the West Coast League and Cawley-Lamb's .350 average the highest in the league.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Momentum building walk-off

Walla Walla vs. Wenatchee

- There was not much to play for standing-wise on Tuesday night but you wouldn't have been able to tell.  In search of momentum, both teams played to win.
- It was a 1-1 game throughout until Chance Kopacz's walk-off double in the bottom of the tenth ended it.  It was Kopacz's second walk-off double this summer and his third game-winning hit in the ninth inning or later.
- Alex Stanford also had a special night.  His bunt single in the fifth inning established a new WCL record for hits in a single-season.  His 65th hit pushed him past Drew Heid (Bend, '08). 
- Stanford's .346 average is tops in the league but Payden Cawley-Lamb (.343) and Ryan Barnes (.339) are right behind him and all three are playing tonight. 
- Zach Wentz had two more hits last night and has six multi-hit games in the last 10.  He has also driven in six runs in that span.
- Derek Peterson had his best outing of summer last night, giving up just one run on seven hits over six innings.  He struck out five and left runners on third three different times.
- Eric Yardley also had his best outing of the summer in relief.  The right-hander struck out three, including Pat Valaika looking to end the ninth with a runner on third.
- Goose Kallunki has hit safely in four-of-five games since returning from his new injury.
- Left-hander Tyler Billen will start the regular season finale for the Sweets.  Billen went 6.2 innings against Cowlitz last Friday in long relief and allowed just one run on three hits.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Playoff Bound!

Walla Walla vs. Wenatchee

- The Walla Walla Sweets are going to the playoffs for the first time in team history thanks to Kelowna's 4-3 victory over Bellingham.
- Kelowna tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and won the game on a walkoff single in the tenth.  The walkoff came as the Sweets were batting with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
- The celebration was a bit subdued because of the 8-2 loss but the Sweets now have two games to figure out how to beat Wenatchee.
- Wenatchee has won six-of-seven against the Sweets this summer and the two teams will meet again in the East Division Playoff that starts on Friday.
- Alex Stanford is on the cusp of history; he enters the game with 64 hits, tied of the most in WCL history. Drew Heid set the mark in 2008 as a member of the Bend Elks. Rich Sanguinetti of Klamath Falls is also closing in and starts the night with 62 hits.
- Zach Wentz had two hits last night and has five of them over the last ten games.
- WW is 8-9 this summer in the second game of three-game series'.
- Derek Peterson gets the start tonight and has not allowed a run over his last three appearances.

Monday, August 8, 2011

One win and we're in!

Walla Walla vs. Wenatchee

- All the Walla Walla Sweets need to do is win one more game to clinch their first playoff berth in team history.  They'll have to get it against East Division-leader Wenatchee though.  Oh, a Bellingham loss to Kelowna will also wrap up a playoff spot for the Sweets.
- Wenatchee has won five of the first six games against the Sweets this summer.  They swept WW at Borleske Stadium in mid-June and then took two-of-three in Wenatchee in early July.
- The Sweets only win against the Applesox this summer came on July 4 as the Sweets rallied from 4-2 down in the eighth to win 5-4.
- Alex Stanford was named WCL Player of the Week on Monday for his performance over the last seven days.  Stanford hit .484 (15-31) in that span, including four three-hit games and a game-winning home run against Cowlitz in the tenth inning yesterday.
- Riding an eight-game hitting streak, Stanford leads the league in hits with 63 and average (.344).  He also stolen a base in seven-straight games.  His 15 stolen bases are fifth in the league.
- Last night's victory over Cowlitz was the fifth time this summer the Sweets have won a game when trailing after seven innings.  Scott Gottschling's RBI single in top of the ninth with two outs and two strikes tied the game and Stanford gave the Sweets the lead with his home run in the top of the tenth.
- With the win, the Sweets took two-of-three from the Black Bears and finished the season 4-5 against them.  It also concluded their final road trip of the summer. WW went 4-2 on the trip and finish the regular season 13-14 on the road.
- A day shy of his 21st birthday, Andrew Mendenhall became the fourth Sweets player this summer to collect four hits in a single game.  He missed out on a chance for five as he grounded out in the top of the tenth.
- The Sweets hit three home runs on the night, the most as a team in a single game this summer.  They have 17 this summer and are tied with Bend for second in the league.  Walla Walla has not homered at home since June 20.
- Elliot Stewart's solo home run in the sixth was his fifth of the summer but just his first since July 4 against Wenatchee.
- Simon Anderson earned his fifth save of the summer with a 1-2-3 tenth and earned saves in three of the four wins on the trip.  He has not allowed a run since June 17 against Wenatchee.  He has put together ten-straight scoreless appearances in that span, totaling 11.1 innings.
- Since the Bells swept the Sweets on July 15 they have gone 4-14.  Walla Walla is 12-6 over that same stretch.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Almost there

Walla Walla at Cowlitz

- The Walla Walla Sweets have a chance to clinch their first playoff berth in franchise history.  If the Sweets win and the Bellingham Bells lose, the Sweets will wrap up second place in the East Division.
- Last night, they got a complete game from Brett Watson and scored all five runs with two outs.
- Watson struck out five and walked two over nine innings and allowed just one run.  It was his third victory of the summer and the third complete game for the Sweets this summer.  Ryan Richardson had the first two.
- Alex Stanford's fourth-inning single gave him 60 hits on the summer, tops in the league.  He's hitting .337, five percentage points behind Breland Almadova of Wenatchee (.342). 
- Andrew Mendenhall picked up his 12th double of the summer and RBI's 15 and 16 with a two-run knock in the fourth.
- It is the third time this summer that the Sweets have won game two against the Cowlitz Black Bears. In June, the Sweets won 9-3 but fell 8-1 in game three.  In July they won game two and lost 9-0 in game three.  They will look to change that trend tonight.
- Watson's gem helped the Sweets drop their team ERA to 2.62, third best in the league.
- Since July, the Sweets are 17-14 and are 11-6 in their second season that began after a sweep at the hands of Bellingham on July 15.
- Tonight's starter, Kyle Anderson, has allowed just one earned run over his last 20.1 innings.  In that span he has struck out 16 and walked two.  His last outing, he struck out nine over seven innings in a win against Kelowna.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pitcher's Duel

Walla Walla at Cowlitz

- It was a pitchers duel last night and it was won by the Black Bears, 1-0.  WW loaded the bases in the ninth but they could not produce the tying run.
- Tyler Billen had his longest outing of the summer, throwing 6.2 innings.  Of his 19 outs, 14 were fly outs and he allowed just three hits.
- After walking the leadoff batter in the fifth, Cowlitz starter Matt Maurer set down 12 straight through the eighth.  He allowed a leadoff single in the ninth and left with runners on first and second and two outs.
- Stanford had all three of the Sweets hits and has 59 on the summer, best in the league.  He has collected three hits in three-straight games.  Stanford also has six hits to lead off the game.
- The Black Bears have won five of the seven meetings this summer between the two teams.
- Despite the loss, the Sweets maintain a two game lead over Bellingham.  The Bells lost 13-6 to Wenatchee last night.  WW's magic number is 4, meaning if they win the next two and Bellingham is swept, they will clinch their first playoff appearance.
- Four of Andrew Mendenhall's last five hits have been doubles and he leads the team with 11.
- Zach Wentz have each driven in four runs over the last seven days.
- Kopacz has struggled of late and is 1-23 since July 22.
- Since winning just six games in June, second-lowest in the league, Walla Walla has won 16 games in July and August, fourth-best in the league.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nice Bender

Walla Walla @ Cowlitz

- The Sweets won their fourth game of the summer when trailing after seven innings last night, the most in the West Coast League.  The 6-5 win also helped them take a two-game lead over Bellingham in the East Division playoff race.
- WW begins a three-game weekend series with Cowlitz tonight.  It will be the third series between the two teams this summer. Cowlitz has taken four of the first six.
- In yesterday's game a pair of Sweets extended hitting streaks.  Kevin Hawk extended his to eight games with an RBI single and Zach Wentz has hit safely in seven-straight after a two-hit performance.  Wentz has four two-hit games over his last five contests.
- Alex Stanford had three hits for the second-straight night and has six three-hit games this summer.  The three hits have him tied with Breland Almadova for the league-lead in hits with 56.
- Goose Kallunki has hit safely in all three games since returning from his injury.
- Since being swept by Bellingham from July 13-15, the Sweets have gone 10-5, erasing a five-game deficit in the standings.
- The Sweets magic number is five which means any combination of Sweets wins and Bells losses will secure a playoff spot for Walla Walla.  The Bells start a three-game series in Wenatchee tonight.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sole Possession

Walla Walla @ Bend

- Sole possession of second place is what the Sweets earned last night with a 6-3 win over Bend.  The win and Bellingham's 1-0 loss to Kitsap gave the Sweets a one game lead with seven to play.
- Alex Stanford had three hits, the fifth time this summer he has accomplished that feat.
- Kevin Hawk had two hits, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
- Zach Wentz also had two hits, extending his hitting streak to six games
- The Sweets lead the league with three wins when trailing after seven innings.  WW is 3-23 in those scenarios.
- Andrew Mendenhall collected two doubles last night and leads the Sweets with 11 on the summer.  Mendenhall has picked up five doubles over his last seven games, the most in that span in the West Coast League.
- Pitching on four days rest, Ryan Richardson pitched six innings and allowed just one run on six hits.  The six hits were the second-highest total he's allowed this summer.
- Tim Culligan gets the ball tonight and will also be throwing on four days rest.  He threw 93 pitches over six innings against Kelowna.  Culligan allowed three runs on five hits and struck out four.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Bender for Sweets

Walla Walla @ Bend

- The Sweets started a crucial six-game road trip last night and fell 8-1 to Bend.  The loss was not as tough as it looked thanks to Kitsap's 2-0 win over Bellingham.   That kept the Sweets tied with the Bells for the final playoff spot in the East.
- The seven run loss was the biggest loss for the Sweets since their 9-0 defeat to Cowlitz on July 2nd.
- Walla Walla gave up 15 hits on the night and collected just four of their own.
- Kevin Hawk extended his hitting streak to six games with his first extra-base hit of the summer in the fifth inning.  He came around to score the only Sweets run.
- Bend has taken three of the first four games between the two teams this summer.
- Ryan Richardson gets the ball tonight on four days rest and is facing Bend for the second straight game.  He threw a 122-pitch complete game last Friday.  He struck out nine in a 3-2 loss.
- Down the stretch, the Sweets have the tougher road compared to Bellingham.  WW plays their final eight games against teams that are over .500, while the Bells face just one team over .500, Wenatchee.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Extra inning sorrow

Walla Walla vs. Kelowna

- It was another tough loss for the Sweets last night as they fell 3-2 in 11 innings.  It was the third time the teams had played extras and the Falcons have won two of the contests.
- The loss put the Sweets a game behind as Bellingham defeated Wenatchee in 10 innings.
- WW is 10-20 this year in games decided by three runs or less.
- Austin Heaps has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games.
- Denver Chavez has stolen three bases this summer and all have come in the last six games.
- Because of Bellingham owning the tiebreaker, the Sweets will need to overtake them in the standings to make the playoffs.
- Kyle Anderson gets the start for the Sweets tonight and is the only full-time starter that does not have a win on the season.
- The Sweets will start a six-game road trip following tonight's game.  They play three games at Bend and then three at Cowlitz.