Victory escapes Merchants’ grasp

The Whidbey Merchants found themselves in unfamiliar territory on Sunday, playing into the ninth inning and leading with a chance to win their first game.

Whidbey was up 6-5 in the top of the ninth of game one, needing only three outs to send the Skagit Humpies to defeat. The Humpie bats, however, came back to life, putting six runs on the board and taking game one, 11-6.

In game one, the Merchants spotted the Humpies three runs after two innings. The score could have been higher, but the Merchant defense came to play, alertly throwing a runner out at the plate in the first inning and turning a routine ground ball to first into a double play with another close play at the plate.

The Merchant offense came to life in the bottom of the fourth with a solid double into left field by Pete Aguirre. The floodgates then opened with hits from Trey Pridgen, Ned Betts, Drew Richardson, and Tim Shelley; helped by walks to Casey Richardson and Chris Davis, a hit batter, and two errors. When the dust cleared, it was six runs for the Merchants and a lead of 6-3.

Betts then shut down the high-powered Humpie offense, keeping them off-balance for the next six innings, allowing only two more runs and helped by the continued great play of his defense.

Game two was a letdown for the Merchants as the Humpies kept hitting, winning in six innings, 11-2.

The game started off strong for the Merchants, however, as a double by Aguirre and sacrifice fly by Pridgeon gave them a 1-0 lead after the first half-inning. The Humpie hitters picked up where they left off and quickly took the lead, 3-1 by the end of the first. The Merchants were then shut down by the Humpie southpaw who limited them to four hits and one more run the rest of the way.

The Merchants’ last home doubleheader is 10:30 a.m., Sunday, July 31, against the Bellingham Shockers.

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