On Friday night, RHP Darius Vines (Oxnard CC) turned in one of the best starts in Sweets history. Vines needed just 65 pitches to work through six perfect innings at Borleske Stadium. He struck out 10.
But the Sweets were completely neutralized by Bend starter RHP Kris Jackson (Corban). Across eight innings, Jackson pounded tailing two-seam fastballs on both corners of the plate, allowing just five hits and two walks. He struck out nine.
Both bullpens relinquished runs. But even though the Sweets rallied late, they could not overcome Bend’s three-run seventh. The final score: Bend 3, Sweets 2.
Vines struck out exactly two batters in each of the first four innings. His 10 strikeouts set a Sweets season-high for Ks by a starting pitcher. The previous high had been LHP Haydn King’s (San Francisco) eight, set in late-June.
Yet even though Jackson was less dominant than Vines (the Sweets left 10 runners on base), he was equally effective.
Bend scored their runs in the top of the seventh. Facing the first Sweets reliever, RHP Conner Roberts (UC Santa Barbara), 2B Collin Runge (Portland) was hit by a pitch to begin the rally with two outs.
After DH Jack Pauley (Northern Colorado) singled, 1B Matt Kroon (Oklahoma State) doubled both runners home, putting Bend ahead 2-0.
The Sweets then turned the game over to RHP Cameron Deere (Brown). And 3B George Mendazona (Oregon State) punched the first pitch he saw up the middle for an RBI base hit, scoring Kroon.
With a 3-0 lead, Bend handed things to All-Star closer RHP Khalil Rivera (Utah Valley) in the ninth. The Sweets, giddy to be rid of Jackson, proceeded to tag Rivera for two runs.
CF Danny Sinatro (Washington State) was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a balk. A single from pinch-hitter Daniel Fredrickson (Gonzaga) placed runners on the corners with none out. Then, a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Jacob Blas (Arizona) scored Sinatro and put the Sweets on the scoreboard.
The team still hasn’t been shut out all year.
The next batter, leadoff hitter LF Ryan Johnston (UC-Irvine) drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. A groundout by RF J.J. Hancock (Washington State) moved the runners over.
The Sweets had the tying runs at second and third with two outs in the ninth.
With 3B Nick Nyquist (Gonzaga) batting, another balk by Rivera brought Fredrickson home and pulled the Sweets to within 3-2.
But Rivera retired Nyquist, ending the game and sending the Sweets home with another loss.
Walla Walla falls to 2-7 in the second half (17-19 overall). Bend, meanwhile, improves to 6-4 (18-19 overall).
Jackson (4-2) wins. Roberts (1-2) loses. Rivera (4) saves.
The Sweets and Elks will resume the series with game two tomorrow night. LHP Dylan Riddle (UC-Irvine) will start for the home team opposite RHP Matt Strang (Linfield).
First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. from Borleske Stadium.
by Ben Farber
Audio Highlights -- Blas sac fly
Sweets Scoop -- Dante Faicchio