Sophomore Austin Kopacz, a frequent traveler on the base paths Saturday at Warrior Field, was on first when Clayten Ayres homered for the Walla Walla Community College baseball team in the second game of its doubleheader against Blue Mountain.
Kopacz crossed home plate for the fifth time that day, this time snapping a 3-3 tie in the third inning. The Warriors stayed on top the rest of the game, finishing with an 8-5 win and a sweep of the twin bill. WWCC had taken the first game, 13-9.
“It wasn’t pretty at times but we found a way to get a couple of wins,” coach Dave Meliah said. “I thought we did a great job of answering their punches. Anytime they would try and get back into the games, we would answer back with a couple of runs to extend the lead back out. That was really important.”
The Warriors’ sweep, combined with Spokane’s spilt at Columbia Basin, lifted Walla Walla (21-11 overall, 11-5 in the East Region) into sole possession of second place. They trail Treasure Valley by one game.
Kopacz ran laps around the bases Saturday against Blue Mountain, totaling six runs. In the first game, he reached base every time he went up — four singles, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. In the second game, two more bases on balls.
After Ayres’ home run put Walla Walla ahead in the second game, sophomore right-hander Johnny McNerney kept Blue Mountain off the scoreboard in the final three innings.
He notched three strikeouts.
“I thought our bullpen did a pretty nice job of limiting them in both games. Johnny especially threw great in the second game to close things out.”
Walla Walla will clash head-to-head with Treasure Valley for first place in the league on Wednesday when the Warriors travel to Ontario.