WENATCHEE — Power marked the Wenatchee AppleSox’s win over the Victoria HarbourCats on Tuesday.
The pitchers had more than 10 strikeouts and a home run in the eighth inning sealed the 6-2 victory.
“I’m feeling fortunate in a way,” Sox head coach Ed Knaggs. “I don’t think we played extremely well. We pitched it very well. It was similar to last night in that we had a cushion so we were able to withstand some poor defense late.”
Wenatchee utilized a huge eighth inning rally with two outs to take some of the tension out of the ninth. Andre Real fouled off five pitches en route to a walk. The speedy Joey Jansen pinch ran for Real and promptly stole a base. He scored two pitches later when Ryan Barr slapped a single through the right side of the infield.
“I’m just trying to go up there and battle,” Barr said. “Andre had a big at-bat to keep that inning going — I don’t even know how many pitches he saw. I came up and (Victoria pitcher Will Ballowe) fell behind and had to throw me a fastball.”
Barr, who came up big in Monday’s game as well, is relishing his last at-bats with the AppleSox as tonight will be his last game before going back to school.
“I’m going to be bummed when I leave and a little sad because I played this long, I want to see it through and help my team win a championship,” The University of Portland Pilot said, adding that he was trying to help the team as much as he can while still in Wenatchee.
With Barr standing on first, catcher Eric Hutting drove his first home run of the summer over the left field wall, which gave the Sox a 6-2 lead.
“I’m just trying to look for a fastball I can put a good swing on, and that’s what I did,” the catcher from Long Beach State said. “Insurance runs are always big.”
Having a four-run lead didn’t take all of the excitement out of the ninth inning, though. Hutting couldn’t handle a called third strike and David Schuknecht reached first, then errors by the third and second basemen loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate.
“Last night it was Lars (Rider) getting pin balled out there. Tonight, it was us with the defensive lapse,” Knaggs said of the interesting finishes.
But reliever Vaughn Berberet got John Schuknecht to groundout to third to put a cap on a solid three-inning appearance.
“It’s good to see Vaughn back out there and doing his thing and being sharp,” Knaggs said. “The fact that he’s healthy and out there throwing is good.”
Starting pitcher C.J. Burdick had another quality start, as the recent graduate threw six innings with seven strikeouts. The future San Diego Torero only walked one HarbourCat.
“We’ve gotten some great innings out of the young guy, that wasn’t expected of him,” Knaggs said. “How our rotation has come around this year — as it’s settled in — he’s been really big for us.”
The HarbourCats took the lead first for the second time in as many nights. Victoria broke up Burdick’s perfect game bid in the third, when Brandon Smith led off the frame with a single. Burdick then walked David Schuknecht to put men on first and second. Alex DeGoti blooped a ball to the shallow outfield that the Sox converged on but couldn’t corral, which loaded the bases. Jordan Ellis hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it 1-0 before Burdick could get out of the inning.
The Sox answered back in the bottom of the fourth to give Burdick a lead. Second baseman Grant Palmer led off the frame with Wenatchee’s first hit of the night. After a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Andre Real pulled a weak groundball to the third baseman Brett Urabe, who threw it into the away dugout to extend the inning and score Palmer. Barr then hit a single in his at-bat to plate Real — the second unearned run of the frame, and the first of Barr’s two RBI in the game.
“They helped us out with that two-out error, and we came out and it ended up biting them,” Knaggs said. “We were lucky enough to take advantage when those things happen.”
But the Cats didn’t waste any time tying the game at 2-2. Victoria had four hits in the top of the fifth, but could only score one despite having the bases loaded with one out. After surrendering the run, Burdick struck out John Schuknecht and got Chris Lewis to groundout to the shortstop.
Wenatchee continued to take advantage of Victoria miscues in the bottom of the fifth, when Nate Steffler scored on a wild pitch from HarbourCat starter Gunner Swanson, which gave the Sox a 3-2 lead.
The Sox will shoot for the series sweep tonight with Stuart Patke on the mound. This will be Patke’s last appearance for the team. The Texan threw well in his previous start and got the win, which was a welcomed sight after he struggled his two starts before that.
“He needs to be around the plate and not having guys hitting in fastball-counts,” Knaggs said.
Knaggs knows the importance of this last game as the Walla Walla Sweets — the team the AppleSox are tied for first place of the North Division with — won its contest Tuesday as well.
“If you’re winning these late — in the situation we’re in — it gives you a chance to have some excitement at the end and extend your season a little bit,” the skipper said.