As a long and difficult season winds down, the Yakima Valley Pippins showed they’ve still got some fight left.
They refused to fold when trailing and eventually took advantage of just enough opportunities to eke out a 6-5 win over Walla Walla in the final series opener of the season for both teams. The celebration after Tanner Parker’s game-winning single in the 10th inning affirmed just how much Yakima Valley wanted to end its eight-game losing streak, as Parker’s teammates denied his efforts to avoid a celebratory ice bath.
“We’re trying to finish strong these last three games,” Parker said. “We don’t (have) much to lose. We’re obviously out of it right now, so just keep playing.”
Catcher Grant Gorrell called it a matter of pride to stay focused through some adversity, and he delivered two hits in the nine spot. The infielder from Boise State has filled a hole at catcher since joining Yakima Valley a week ago after starting the season with Wenatchee and then playing briefly in his home state of Arizona.
Contributions came from up and down the lineup, including three hits for Sawyer Chesley in the five-spot and two from leadoff hitter Eddie Pelc. The San Diego signee also threw two shutout innings as the fifth pitcher to close out a long night for the Pippins.
Yakima Valley fell behind early when Walla Walla scored two quick runs before the Pippins recorded a second out. But they responded immediately with three runs, in their half of the first inning, sparked by Tyler Dean’s two-run double.
Parker Price tied the game in the second by drawing a bases-loaded walk, but Yakima Valley’s defense kept Walla Walla from taking the lead. The Pippins stranded 11 Sweets runners by playing a third straight error-free game for the first time all season.
That improved defense proved vital when Gorrell came up with a clever play on a single by Walla Walla’s Justin Folz in the fourth inning. Chazz Martinez thought he would score easily from second as Gorrell stood casually at home plate right until the throw from Kyle Dean arrived in time to beat Martinez, who didn’t think he needed to slide.
“I played second base my four years in high school, so I usually do that when they’re stealing,” Gorrell said. “They come in standing up, get yelled at by their coach and I get a free out.”
Yakima Valley missed opportunities to go back on top when runners reached scoring position in the second, third and fifth innings. Finally, the Sweets capitalized on a two-run double by Justin Folz in the sixth against reliever Nick Brown.
But 2018 West Valley grad Spencer Bailey kept Walla Walla at bay for two innings while the offense went back to work. Kyle Dean, Brian Rice and Christian Padilla all reached base to start a two-run eighth inning, although the Pippins stranded Padilla on third with one out.
Parker’s one-out single ensured that didn’t happen again after they loaded the bases in the 10th amid plenty of yelling from the opposing dugout.
The shortstop heard it and said his teammates didn’t hesitate to give it right back, so Parker’s looking forward to two more high-energy games, regardless of the standings.