YAKIMA — Walla Walla Community College pitchers Cameron Walker and Lowden Smith, a Dayton High School graduate, together shut out first-place Yakima Valley, 1-0, in the nightcap to salvage a split of their Northwest Athletic Conference East Region baseball doubleheader here Wednesday.
Warriors catcher Dylan Wilbert singled home Colton Peha in the eighth inning for the game’s only run in WWCC’s victory.
The fifth-place Warriors (17-10 overall, 7-7 in the division) had suffered a 9-5 loss in the first game, with Yakima Valley scoring five runs in the first inning.
Walker answered with eight scoreless innings in the nightcap, matching Yakima Valley righty Isaac Mitchum pitch-for-pitch. The Warrior right-hander scattered four hits and two walks while plunking two Yaks with pitches, but also notched seven strikeouts.
“Cam gave us an excellent effort,” WWCC coach Dave Meliah said. “He did a great job of mixing up his pitches and keeping them off-balance.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors mustered only five base runners on four hits and an error against Mitchum through seven innings before Peha doubled to lead off the eighth.
The Yak starter then struckout Robby Helberg and retired retired Brian O’Rourke on a comebacker in succession, but Steven Sordahl kept the inning alive with a two-out single advancing Peha to third base, and Wilbert knocked him in for a 1-0 lead.
Walker followed with a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning and returned to the mound for the ninth, but his 113th pitch resulted in a leadoff single by Yakima Valley pinch-hitter Keone Mckee, so Meliah called in Smith.
Mckee remained anchored on first base as Smith recorded a strikeout, a flyout and a groundout to wrap up the win.
“We tried to let (Cam) finish it,” Meliah said, “but his pitch count got to the point where we decided to give the ball to Lowden, and he did a good job of closing the door.”
By contrast, the Yaks out-slugged the Warriors in the first game.
Walla Walla had two hits apeice from Sordahl, Wilbert, Walker (designated hitter), Josh Kutzke and Garrett March, as well as two walks and two hit batters, but Yakima Valley also touched up Warrior righty Jake Simmons for 12 hits including four doubles over his five innings of work.
The Warriors’ Blake Macdonald doubled home Sordahl for a 1-0 lead while Ryan Riepma took third base with nobody out in the first inning, but the Warriors followed with a harmless infield pop fly, a lineout to first and another infield pop fly.
Yakima Valley answered with five runs on five hits and never looked back, adding another in the second, and two more in the fourth.
March singled home Kutzke and McLoughlin High grad Dylan Shuler in the sixth inning, cutting the Yakima lead down to 8-3, and the Warriors added two more runs in the seventh on Shuler’s run scoring single and a bases-loaded walk, but it was too little too late as Yakima tacked on an insurance run in the eighth.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Meliah said, “actually left the bases loaded in a couple of innings, but just dug ourselves too big of a hole at the start of the game. It was nice to see us compete though and swing our way back into it.”
WWCC next plays Saturday in Pendleton at Blue Mountain Community College in a doubleheader.