The Kelowna Falcons hunt for home field in the first round of the WCL Playoffs took a positive turn on Friday night with a 9-6, 11 inning victory over the Walla Walla Sweets at Borleske Stadium in Washington.
The outcome was in doubt through 7 innings of this one, as the Sweets took a 4-0 lead to the 8th.
An RBI single from Myles Hager made it 1-0 in the 3rd, while Alex McKenna picked up his 3rd hit of the night with a 2-run homer in the 5th. The Sweets tacked on another in the 7th after a run scored on a wild pitch.
The Falcons would not go away, as they had an excellent 8th inning scoring 5 times on 3 hits.
After a leadoff walk and single from Hunter Villanueva, Walla Walla pitcher Juan Gamaz retired the next two Falcons hitters. Kelowna would get a single from Kyle Plantier to load the bases for Max Carter.
Carter would get a painful RBI, taking a fastball off the helmet, which scored Grant Meylan. Carter was forced to leave the game, and is day-to-day.
The Falcons rallied around that injury it seemed, as a hard hit ball from Scout Villanueva eluded Hager, scoring a pair. Lane Lacrone cashed in the 5th run to put Kelowna ahead by a 5-4 score.
Walla Walla responded immediately in the 8th, as they scored a run off a Jon Hechtner Sac Fly. Brandon Oliver, who entered the game defensively behind the plate in the 8th, tried to get another runner that was tagging but let go an errant throw, leading to the go-ahead run crossing the plate.
Alex Webb got the final out by getting a ground out back to him.
Oliver would get his chance at redemption in the 9th, as he doubled to right and scored Justin Flores to tie the game at 6.
In the 11th inning, Kelowna got a 2-out double from Oliver, followed by a walk and another go-ahead single from Lacrone.
A hit batter, and a bases loaded walk scored another, while Lacrone counted on a wild pitch to go up 9-6.
Jayse Bannister nailed it down in the 9th, stranding 2 Sweets on base to end the ballgame. It was Bannister’s 1st WCL save.
Webb picked up the victory going 2.2 innings, striking out a pair.
Top nights offensively were by Oliver (2-2, 2 doubles, RBI), Lacrone (2-7, 2 RBI’s), and Hunter Villanueva (2-5, RBI)
Lost in the extra inning game was the performance from starter Joel Lamont.
Lamont worked 6 innings, scattered 6 hits and struck out 6 while giving up 3 runs. He moved into 11th on the Single Season strikeout leader board in Falcons history, and his 2.44 ERA this summer has him tied for 8th all-time as well.
The Falcons will look for another win Saturday night against Walla Walla, as they try to lock down home field in Games 2 and 3 (Wednesday/Thursday) of the upcoming playoff series.
A win and a Bellingham loss on Saturday would give Kelowna that advantage. Corvallis will try and nail down the WCL Wild Card playoff spot with a win over Medford as well.