Fresh off a couple of tough losses in Bellingham, the Pippins needed some early Fourth of July fireworks Friday night, and Darrion Simons -- who dealt eight quality innings -- was just the spark they needed. His strong start led the Pippins to a 6-1 win over the Walla Walla Sweets at The Orchard.

Simons, who hadn’t picked up a win since his first start of the year on June 7, was effective early, allowing no hits and three walks through five innings. His counterpart, Cooper Powell of Walla Walla, was equally strong. The lefty was perfect through the first 13 hitters, before allowing his first hit to J.R. Davis in the 5th. Simons and Powell both worked scoreless outings through five innings.

In the 6th, each team got on the board. The Sweets (12-13) got their only run of the night on an RBI groundout from Kyle Nixon, and missed a chance for more runs after an unassisted double play by Mitch Skaggs. The Pippins (15-10) countered in the bottom of the 6th, stringing together three straight two-out singles against Powell to take a 2-1 lead. The RBI singles came off the bats of Jace Van De Brake and Skaggs, who extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Simons, who hadn’t pitched with a lead since June 7, came back strong over his final two innings, striking out the side in the 7th and racking up two more punchouts in a 1-2-3 8th. In total, Simons worked 8 innings, allowed just 1 hit, 1 run, 4 walks and tied his season high with 10 strikeouts (also against Walla Walla) to pick up the win.

Yakima Valley goes for the series win Saturday morning at 11:05 in a Fourth of July matchup with the Sweets. Andrew Bernstein takes the mound for Yakima Valley, opposed by Micah Gorman of the Sweets. The Pippins office will be closed on Saturday, but tickets are still available online at PippinsBaseball.com.