YAKIMA, Wash. — Throughout an up-and-down season, the Pippins have almost always been able to rely on one constant.
Every time Joe Magrisi takes the mound, opponents struggle to score. That trend continued Saturday night with a 7-1 win over Port Angeles, featuring seven shutout innings and 11 strikeouts for the rising sophomore from Cal State Fullerton.
“Last Saturday, I didn’t have my best stuff,” Magrisi said. “Walked a few guys, more than I’d like. So this whole last week, it’s been focused on today.”
Despite six walks, Magrisi still struck out 12 while giving up only one hit and no runs. But he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in a game the Pippins ended up losing 2-1 at Portland.
Port Angeles rarely even got to three-ball counts this week as Magrisi focused on pitching to contact and relying on his defense. As it turned out they weren’t needed all that often, especially when Magrisi went to his curveball with two strikes.
An example of the right-hander’s dominance — and perhaps some good fortune — this summer came in the seventh inning with Yakima Valley ahead 7-0. Magrisi gave up two hits and hit a batter to load the bases with no outs, prompting a visit to the mound from pitching coach Rob Hippi.
“He said, ‘what’s the plan here?,’” Magrisi recalled. “And I said, ‘ground ball, right? Double play.’ And he said, ‘no, I want you to punch this guy out first and then get a groundball double play.”
After fouling off three pitches with a 2-2 count, pinch-hitter Connor Denning finally struck out swinging. Trevor Rosenberg followed that with a line drive up the middle and Magrisi got just enough glove on the ball to deflect it to second baseman Nick DiCarlo, who started an inning-ending double play that led Magrisi to exuberantly pound his chest on the way back to the dugout.
That extended his shoutout streak to 19 1/3 innings, lowering his season ERA to a West Coast League-leading 0.62. Magrisi’s struck out 53 and walked nine in 28 2/3 innings of work.
Despite those staggering numbers, he had only one win before the Pippins scored more than four runs for the first time in Magrisi’s five starts. Aidan Welch started the scoring when he singled and scored in the second and came around again on an error after reaching on a hit-by-pitch during a four-run sixth inning.
Nick Israel went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and Yakima Valley capitalized on four Port Angeles errors to score five unearned runs. The Pippins had scored only seven runs in their last four league games since a 13-4 win over Bellingham on the Fourth of July.
They’ll return to action for a doubleheader Sunday to make up for the June 27 game at Port Angeles. The Pippins lost the first two games in that series, and Magrisi said they haven’t forgotten.
“We’re taking this team personal because when we were in Port Angeles they swept us,” Magrisi said. “We were happy to give it to them tonight and hopefully (we’ll) get two more tomorrow.”
Even though the postponed game was scheduled for the first half of the season, both games of the doubleheader will count towards the second half standings. Yakima Valley sits in fourth place in the North division, 1.5 games back of first-place Victoria.