Sometimes it just takes one spark to revive a struggling offense.
Christian Padilla’s lead-off double in the third couldn’t wake the Pippins’ bats from their slumber, but James Bell’s did three innings later. Yakima Valley took control and cruised to a 9-4 win over Kelowna thanks to the five-run rally, capped off by Tanner Parker’s three-run double into the gap.
The red-hot shortstop delivered an encore in the eighth, when the Falcons’ right fielder turned around to jog a few steps before watching the ball sail over the wall. That gave Parker his eighth straight multi-hit game and all but wrapped up another series win for the Pippins.
“He’s on fire,” Henry Gargus said. “He’s crazy. Seeing the ball really well and he’s making him pay.”
The Stanford-bound Davis graduate found ways to offer some offensive contributions of his own, reaching base in his first three at-bats. He battled back after getting behind in the count to earn a walk, took a pitch in the back, and then lined a single to right field.
The power that earned Gargus significant recognition hasn’t shown up yet, as he’s still looking for an extra base hit in his first extended stint against college pitching. But McKimmy praised Gargus for his commitment and effort, noting the first baseman shows good speed given his size.
“We’ve isolated him and just the way he’s going about his business and playing the game,” McKimmy said. “I don’t know how much it’s infected the team, but I know that it has. I know that it’ll only get better.”
Gargus downplayed the idea of setting an example for his teammates, noting many of them play hard and bring energy as well. He’s trying to learn as much as possible from more experienced players while doing whatever he can to help.
Yakima Valley scored just one run against Kelowna pitching in the last 16 innings before they managed to score two without a hit thanks to some mistakes from Falcons pitchers in the fourth. They walked two batters, hit two others and even balked in the tying run.
That brought out some of the Pippins’ best defense an inning later, when Luke Schwartz caught a ball headed toward the gap on a dead sprint and Parker made a tough play in the hole at short. Still, two straight hits ended starter Mark Finkelnburg’s night and AJ Wood balked in the go-ahead run.
The win kept Yakima Valley within a game of first-place Victoria, which will visit Yakima County Stadium one more time Thursday after splitting two games last week.
“We’re not looking at the standings,” McKimmy said. “The way I see it, it’s Game 3 of a three-game series with them where if we win, we’ve got the tiebreaker and we take two out of three from them.”