Nick Adams added an RBI in the fourth inning, but it wasn’t enough as Pippins reliever Mark Woinarowicz shut out the HarbourCats in the games final five innings. (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
YAKIMA, WA — The Yakima Valley Pippins’ (6-1) pitching staff combined for seven strikeouts, and scored four times in the first two innings to defeat the Victoria HarbourCats (3-4) and maintain their lead atop the WCL North First Half division standings.
It was the HarbourCats, however, that drew first blood and opened the scoring in the top half of the first with a two out rally.
After Pippins starter Joey Magrisi gathered back to back outs to begin the game, Griffin Paxton broke up his early rhythm with a single to the infield that ignited the ‘Cats rally. One batter later, Frankie Niemann drew a walk with a seven pitch at bat, and Emilio Nogales doubled in Paxton immediately following the walk to make it a 1-0 game.
Aaron Celestino, making his second start of the season after a dazzling five-strikeout performance June 5 in a win over Wenatchee, struggled to settle into that same routine tonight in Yakima.
In the home half of the first, the Pippins brought seven men to the plate and scored three times off the Victoria starter. Yakima carried that momentum into the second as well, beginning the inning with back to back singles and scoring with a Tyler Pittman sac-fly to right field.
Celestino was able to keep the game within reach after the first two rocky frames, allowing only two hits after the second inning. The righty finished his night after five, racking up three strikeouts that brought his season total to eight and tied himself with Dillon Larsen for the team lead.
The ‘Cats weren’t the only ones doling out strikeouts on this early season game in Yakima, as the Pippins used seven K’s of their own to silence the Victoria bats. Magrisi finished his night with six strikeouts on the evening, including back to back K’s in the second and third, and reliever Mark Woinarowicz added in a strikeout in four innings of one-hit ball.
On a night when the HarbourCats were stymied by the Pippins’ pitching, though, HarbourCats catcher Niemann found a way to continue his hot stretch at the dish to start the season.
The Tulane university product’s leadoff double in the fourth upped his batting average to .481, ensured he’d record at least one hit in six of the first seven games to start the season, and started the HarbourCats second scoring chance of the night. Niemann advanced to third one batter later, and was sent home off a Nick Adams RBI single to cut the Pippin lead to two.
It was Woinarowicz though, who entered the game in the fifth, that contained the HarbourCats throughout the rest of the game—allowing one hit and no runs across the final five frames to secure Yakima’s sixth victory on the young season.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow night in the finale of this two game midweek series, as Dillion Larsen is scheduled to counter Mark Finkelnburg on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35p.m. at Yakima County Stadium.