Despite spotting the Yakima Valley Pippins ten runs early, the Cowlitz Black Bears refused to quit and fought their way back into the game, at one point bringing the tying run to the plate. It was not enough, however, as the Black Bears came up short at Yakima County Stadium, 11-8, in the first ever meeting between the teams.
It was the eighth straight win for Yakima who set a new record for wins by an expansion team in the West Coast League in their first season.
After scoring a pair of runs in the first inning, the Pippins added on in a big way in the third. Bears starter Jake Menzhuber induced a ground out to beginthe inning before things unraveled. The next four batters reached, with a bases clearing double by Yakima catcher Alex Guenette being the knockout blow for the Cowlitz lefty. Henry Omana entered the game but didn't fair much better in the frame. When all was said and done, the Pippins would send 14 batter to the plate, scoring eight runs to take a commanding 10-0 lead.
Omana settled down from there, turning in his longest outing of the season at four and two-thirds innings, and the Black Bears steadily clawed their way back into the game.
Seaver Whalen and Casey Worden led off the fifty inning with back-to-back doubles off the left field wall. After a walk to Caleb Hamilton loaded the baes, Daniel Orr got the Black Bears on the board with a sacrifice fly to score Whalen. Jonathan Serven, who extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the first inning, drove a ball into the right-center gap to plate both Worden and Hamilton with triple.
Serven scored the fourth run of the inning on an error by Yakima shortstop Ryan Yamane to cut the Pippins' lead to 10-4.
Whalen scored from second base on a Yakima error in the sixth inning to bring the Bears within five.
Following a solo home run by Yakima's Kyle Thompson in the seventh, the Black Bears bats again answered.
Chris Iriart led off the eighth inning with a double and quickly came home on Whalen's third hit of the evening. Worden reached on a fielders choice and later came in to score on a bases loaded wild pitch. The inning ended, however, with two Black Bears runners in scoring position.
Even in the ninth, the Pippins could not get comfortable. Iriart launched a solo home run with to inch Cowlitz closer before a strike out ultimately ended the game.
Iriart singled, doubled and homered in his final three at bats to finish a triple short of the cycle. Whalen added three hits, and Serven added two hits and two RBI to lead the comeback effort.
Eli Morgan improved to 8-0 on the season with the win for the Pippins, tying a West Coast League record for wins in a season, while Yakima Valley set a new record for wins in a season by an expansion team with 31.
Chris Castellanos (1-0, 2.85 ERA) will take the mound for the Black Bears opposite Andrew Woods (4-3, 2.67 ERA) and Pippins for game two of the three game series on Tuesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 from Yakima County Stadium. Tune in for all the action with Shane Downey on KEDO AM 1400 beginning at 6:50 on KEDO AM 1400 and streaming live on cowlitzblackbears.com.