WENATCHEE – The Yakima Valley Pippins (1-0), were powered by dominant pitching en route to a 6-1 win over the Wenatchee AppleSox (0-1), Friday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium in the teams’ West Coast League opener.
The Pippins combined to toss 14 strikeouts, Friday, and starter Zach Draper set the tone with 6 strikeouts in the first five innings.
Wenatchee and Yakima Valley were scoreless through two innings of play, and Wenatchee starter Jimmy Dobrash responded to a leadoff single in the top of the first by striking out six of the next eight batters he faced.
In the third, the Pippins opened the scoring with an RBI single from Jay Schuyler, which scored Zach Bonneau who was aboard earlier in the inning on a leadoff single. Mitchell Marimoto picked up the second RBI of the frame, driving in Derek Molina, who was hit by pitch earlier in the inning. Shuyler came around to score a third run on a wild pitch in the inning. The score would hold until the seventh.
In the sixth inning, after Dobrash forced an inning-opening groundout to shortstop, two Pippins batters were hit by pitch, forcing AJ Proszek to go to the bullpen for the remainder of the evening. Dobrash finished allowing six hits, three runs, two of which were earned, while striking out seven batters on 94 pitches.
Casey Legumina got the AppleSox out of the sixth unscathed, but the Pippins grabbed two more runs off of him in the seventh, and tallied an additional run against Matt Young, who relieved Legumina in the frame.
The Pippins started the inning with a single, stolen base, and walk, courtesy of Marimoto and Chris Ceballos. Jonathan Sandberg then hit into a 4-6-3 double play, and the AppleSox looked to be back in business. Yakima Valley countered with an RBI single from Ryan Garcia, a walk of Bonneau, an RBI single for Tanner Simpson, and an additional run when Bonneau later came to score on a wild pitch.
Wenatchee claimed its lone run of the game in the eighth. With one out in the bottom half, Parker Price dropped a hit into mid-range center field. Simpson thought he could catch up to the ball late, but it got under his glove on a diving try for a catch, allowing Price to cruise into third with a triple. Sheldon Liikala later drove in Price with a fielder’s choice 4-3 groundout.
The AppleSox would load the bases on the Pippins in the ninth inning, but nothing came of it, as former AppleSox starting pitcher Zach Haggett came on in relief to shut the door. He capped the game with the Pippin’s 14th strikeout, foul tipped into the glove of Bonneau.
The Pippins finished 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position while the AppleSox were 0-for-7. Wenatchee walked and hit four batters, for a total of eight free bases.
For the Pippins, the win marked their third-consecutive on Opening Night, since their franchise’s inaugural Opening Night win against the AppleSox in Yakima in 2014.
The AppleSox fell for the first time on Opening Night in four years, snapping a franchise-best Opening Night mark.
The series continues Saturday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m., and Kyle Blankenship will face off against a TBD pitcher for the Pippins. Gates open at 6 p.m.