Pippins’ dream season ends in Bellingham
Photo courtesy of Yakima Valley Pippins
Yes, Ray. They built it.
The Yakima Valley Pippins brought baseball back to town with a great ball season highlighted by record-breaking performances, a division championship and an appearance in the playoffs.
But a dream-come-true season came to an end Wednesday evening in Bellingham when the Pippins fell 4-3 to the team that came into the West Coast League playoffs with the league's best record.
The Bellingham Bells started the game off with four straight hits off Pippins' starter Eli Morgan. They scored two runs from a single by Danny Miller in the first inning and added another run in the second for an early 3-0 lead.
But in the third, the Pippins capitalized on a Mitch Skaggs RBI single and a throwing error by Bellingham's Jack Klein to make it 3-2.
The game then settled into a pitching duel with the Pippins' Morgan and Bellingham's Aaron Sandefur, Ryan McMonigle and Dan Ludwig hushing both teams' bats for 7 1/2 innings.
In the eighth inning, Skaggs tied the game up with an two-RBI sacrifice fly to center field to put the Pippins in position to win or send the game into extra innings. Costly errors, however, loaded the bases for Bellingham's David Miller, who hit a flair into center field that scored the winning run for the Bells (39-17 regular season and now 2-0 playoffs).
The West Division champion Bells now advance to the championship round against the Corvallis Knights -- the South Division champions -- who eliminated the wild-card Bend Elks.
Aaron Sandefur got the win for the Bells and Kenny Rosenberg took the loss for Yakima.
And with that, a season for the history books was over for the Yakima Valley Pippins.
The overachieving team set WCL records for most wins by an expansion team and by being the first first-year team to win a division championship. (The Pippins finished the regular season 35-19 and won the East Division.)
Vince Fernandez put his name in the Pippins and WCL record books with 10 HRs and 51 RBI for the season and maintained a team-best batting average of .359. Pippins' pitcher Eli Morgan notched an 8-0 record with 56 strikeouts. Andrew Wood had 58 strikeouts (the most on the team) and an ERA of 2.38. Brandon Williams had the lowest ERA for the Pippins at 2.33.
The boys of summer will be back, ready to make memories and play ball!