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Cowlitz Black Bears vs. Walla Walla Sweets, 6.25.15

Black Bears center fielder Isaac Benard goes almost to the fence to haul in a deep fly out by Walla Walla.

It was a sweet Sweets sweep at David Story Field as the Cowlitz Black Bears took their third victory in a row from Walla Walla on Thursday night.

They certainly earned it, too, winning 8-7 in 11 innings in a nearly four-hour affair that for most of the night looked like it would end an easy 3-0 win for the Black Bears.

But the Sweets didn’t want to be swept.

After Kelso’s Slate Miller hit an RBI double to tie the game at 6-6 in the ninth and buy the Bears a few more chances, it was a battle of who wanted it more.

A quick 10th inning gave way to a nail-biter of an 11th.

The Sweets thought they had the deal done, driving in a run before being retired. But there was no such Sweets revenge, as the Bears loaded the bases and sent two in to give the lingering crowd what they’d been waiting for.

Mitch Bevacqua had the line-drive RBI single for the walk-off win, improving the Black Bears to 8-7 in West Coast League play.

The win clinched the first sweep of the season for Cowlitz, which got a solid start out of Emilio Foden. Despite a few close calls and a handful of hits, the right-hander shut out the Sweets over six innings.

The Bears relievers couldn’t make it stand up from there, but the bats made up the difference.

Cowlitz batters made a connection with Walla Walla starter Cooper Powell from the start, grabbing three runs in the first.

But that’s all he gave through six innings, making a habit out of retiring batters in order and keeping the Bears off the board until he was relieved. The Sweets also made up for early fielding errors that put the Bears on board in the first place.

A gut-wrenching eighth inning saw the lead shrink and then disappear altogether as the Sweets sent four runners across the plate on wild pitches and errors from the infield and outfield.

As the Black Bears stared down a 4-3 deficit in the eighth inning, hope was restored. Isaac Benard blasted a two-run homer to right field to put Cowlitz fans on their feet and give the team a 5-4 edge going into the ninth.

The back and forth continued in the ninth, however, as the Sweets grabbed two more runs before Miller’s tying RBI.

The Bears start a long road trip to Bend and Medford beginning Friday.

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Contact Daily News reporter Brooks Johnson at 360-577-7828 or bjohnson@tdn.com.

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