Kelowna Falcons

Falcons Sweep Series

It was a busy weekend for the Kelowna Falcons. After having game one of their series against the Kitsap Bluejackets rained out on Friday, they hosted a double header on Saturday, walking off their opponents in both outings.

Sunday saw the conclusion of the series, and for a third straight game, the Falcons had the final say, walking off the Bluejackets in extras innings and earning the series sweep.

The 9-8 victory was the sixth in a row for the birds, and the second consecutive series sweep. The entire win streak has been against the Bluejackets, including a road sweep last week.

Despite the recent winning ways, Sunday’s game was anything but an easy victory. After taking a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning, things started to fall apart for the home side. The jackets bats got busy in the sixth, hammering out 7 total runs and stealing the lead out from underneath the Falcons. Another run in the seventh inning made it an 8-3 game, and the outlook started to look dim.

The tenacity and character of the Falcons shone through though, as they responded with a 5 run eighth inning. Jake Druce and Chandler Robertson were the first two Falcons to reach base in the inning, giving Joey Crunkilton a chance to start the rally, driving in Druce.

With one out and the bases loaded, Bowen Ogata joined the hit parade, sending home a pair and closing the gap on the Bluejackets. Lane Lacrone would cross the plate safely in the inning, knotting everything up at 8.

Once again though, regulation wasn’t enough for these two clubs. They headed into extra innings for the second time in the series. After a few close calls in the tenth inning, the Bluejackets went down in order in the top of the eleventh, giving the Falcons a chance to work some magic.

Jake Druce got things started off with a booming double that nearly cleared the left field fence, sending the crowd to their feet. Geoff McCaulley stepped in as a pinch runner for Druce, and small ball and the winning run became the focus. Daniel Priwin advanced the runner with a sacrifice, meaning the winning run was just 90 feet from home.

Just to add to the drama, Crunkilton stepped into the batters box with two outs and a runner at third. He took a first pitch strike, then became the hero of the night, driving a ball into right field and sending McCaulley home for the win.

In total, the Falcons hammered out 17 hits on the night, spread between 9 batters. There wasn’t just a single hot bat either; Crunkilton, Ogata, and Robertson each had a pair of hits, while Lane Lacrone added 3 of his own. Buejackets pitching couldn’t solve Daniel Priwin either, who went 4-for-5 on the night with a pair of RBI’s.

A strained Falcons pitching staff found a way to keep going too. Righty Tanner Knapp started the game, and went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits. Evan Jones, Vaughn Shapen, and Cody Ahlgrimm all appeared in relief, combing for 2 1/3 innings.

The pitching story of the night though, was AJ Sawyer. Usually slotted in as an outfielder, the 6’1 righty came into the game and pitched the pressure innings. He went 3 complete, surrendering just a single hit and 1 walk. Rust didn’t seem to be a problem either, despite not pitching since July 3rd.

Falcons bench boss Bryan Donohue shook off the seven-run inning his opponents put up, and gave credit to his club for grinding out the win. “Now that was a character win.”

Donohue knew that regardless of the outcome, he was going to be happy with how his team responded to giving up a lopsided lead towards the end of the game. “That seven spot hurt, and then they tacked on another one. But the way this series went, we started barreling some baseballs, and we were just watching it come together for us.”

It was a thrilling series, and with six straight victories, the Falcons are now sitting in first place for the second half of the season with a 7-5 record. They’ll have a few days off for the West Coast League All-Star break, before getting back into things on Wednesday against the Yakima Pippens.

Story courtesy of Matt Inglis – Falcons Media

Photo courtesy of Matt Inglis

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