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Portland begins road swing with tough loss to Walla Walla with best record in WCL

A tough season start continued Tuesday for the Portland Pickles, who battled the hottest team in the West Coast League to the wire on its home field before falling 3-2 to the Walla Walla Sweets.

The Sweets rallied midway through the first game of a three-game series, then held off Portland's rally attempt before a crowd of 1,047 at Borleske Stadium.

Walla Walla raised its WCL record to 9-1, while Portland slipped to 4-9.

The Pickles outhit the Sweets 6-3, with Portland starter Michael Newstrom (Washington State) going four scoreless innings and allowing one hit and two walks, with three strikeouts.

Portland took the lead in the second inning, when leadoff batter John Jensen (Cal Irvine) got to third on an error in center field, then scored on a ground out by Darius Perry (UCLA commit).

Jensen scored in the fourth for a 2-0 lead. He led off with a single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on a ground out by Gabe Skoro (University of Portland, ex-Lincoln High)

But Walla Walla went ahead in the fifth on a three-run home run by Patrick Caulfield from Santa Barbara (California) City College. The blow eventually saddled Trent Bixby (UNLV, 1-1) with the loss.

The Pickles got runners on first and second in the eighth inning on a walk and error.

But on another sacrifice attempt, the Sweets were able to get a standing-up John Arndorfer (Notre Dame, ex-Jesuit High) at third base for the first out.

A fly out to left field left runners on first and second, and then DH Perry struck out, and Walla Walla preserved its one-run lead.

In the Portland ninth, Chase Luttrell (Long Beach State) and Colton Cassinelli (Washington) both singled with one out, and Jon Burghardt (Morehead State) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But the Sweets got Luttrell out at home on Arndorfer's grounder to third, and the game then ended as Alex Lambeau (Loyola Marymount) hit a ground out to the second baseman.

The next game between the teams is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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