The Kelowna Falcons erupted for a big six-run 2nd inning but the offence sputtered after that as the Walla Walla Sweets came from behind and walked the game off in the 9th inning, handing Kelowna a 7-6 loss on Wednesday night at Borleske Stadium.
Nick Nyquist went 2-for-2 and got on base four times while also delivering the game-winning RBI sacrifice fly in the 9th inning while Ryan Johnston pitched five innings of relief for the Sweets and allowed just one hit as Walla Walla picked up their first win of the series and forced a rubber match in the series finale on Thursday.
The Sweets opened the game with a strong start, collecting three runs in the bottom of the 1st frame after striking out the side in the top half of the inning. Jordan Hovey dropped a double into left field with the sun playing a factor on left fielder Dylan Orick as two runs came into score before Cesar Lopez roped a double to left center field to give Walla Walla a 3-0 lead after the opening inning of play.
The Falcons got a big response from their offence as they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs on seven hits to give Kelowna their first lead of the game. It started with a pair of singles to lead off the inning before a groundout and strikeout, plus a walk, put two outs on the board with the bases loaded for Tylor Nixon.
Nixon lined a ball to left center field and cleared the bases on the three-run double and tied the game at 3-3 before Matt Voelzke drove him home with an RBI single to push the Falcons ahead by a 4-3 score. Trent Tinglestad and Lucas Soper added to the inning, each plating RBI singles and pushing Kelowna’s advantage to 6-3 after an inning and a half after the offensive explosion.
The Sweets added a run in the 4th inning to cut the Falcons lead to 6-4 before both pitching staffs started to find a groove and put up four innings of scoreless ball between the two sides. Relievers Samuel Reed and Ryan Johnston shut the door for Walla Walla while Kellan Richards did an outstanding job of filling in after Stone Churby pitched five innings allowing four runs.
Richards struck out six batters during his three-inning relief effort, but Walla Walla did get to within a run on a groundout from Johnston to make it a 6-5 game into the 9th inning of play, where Walla Walla completed their comeback.
Cal Hehnke came on for the save in the final frame with the first pitch he threw being taken out of the ballpark by pinch hitter Ben Farris to tie the game at 6-6 band is the first blown save of the season for Hehnke.
The Sweets loaded the bases with one out for Nyquist, who lifted a ball into left field as Austen Butler made the catch but would not be able to throw the runner out at home and the sacrifice fly gave Walla Walla a 7-6 walk-off victory.
Stone Churby started the game for Kelowna, going five innings allowing four runs with three of them earned while Trent Sellers started for Walla Walla, going 1.2 innings and surrendering six runs on seven hits. Hehnke took the loss for Kelowna, his first of the season while Ryan Johnston picked up the win after five innings of shutout pitching.