CORVALLIS, Ore. — The two teams in the West Coast League Championship Series combined for four hits in game two Monday as the Corvallis Knights edged the Wenatchee AppleSox 1-0 to claim the title.
Sox All-Star starter Trevor Lubking — the grandson of Gene and Mary Lubking of East Wenatchee — threw a masterful game in the only contest played at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. Unfortunately Lubking’s outing was trumped by Corvallis’ Jorge Perez, who sealed the 2-0 series-sweep. Each pitcher scattered two hits, went as far as they could and didn’t allow a base on balls. The difference was Corvallis executing a small-ball play in its only real scoring opportunity while the AppleSox couldn’t.
“It was a unique game with two pitchers who just threw extremely well,” Wenatchee head coach Ed Knaggs said in a phone interview after the game. “I can’t say enough about their guy and certainly Trevor threw an amazing game. And it was a big game, so it was really impressive.”
The Knights struck in the bottom of the fourth when Blake Drake led off with a double that “landed about an inch inside the foul line” for Corvallis’ first hit of the game. Drake moved to third on a ground out and scored on a Dane Lund sacrifice fly to center.
“We were really concerned about (the Knights’) running game and it turns out that was absolutely not a factor,” Knaggs said. “Trevor got a lot of strike-ones, and he had 3-2 counts in which he made really tough pitches. … The only other thing he could’ve done for us is throw a no-hitter, I guess.”
Wenatchee had to wait until the top of the eighth before getting its second hit off of Perez. “Left fielder” Eric Hutting drove a shot that the center fielder mishandled allowing the converted catcher to reach third.
“Eric hit the ball well, it was off (the center fielder’s) glove and he couldn’t really find it,” Knaggs said of his team’s only hit that put a runner in scoring position. “I thought we might have had chance to at least tie it.”
But for the second time in as many games, Hutting was caught in no man’s land and tagged out — this time trying to score on a squeeze play that catcher Joey Harris couldn’t execute.
“It was a 3-1 pitch, (Perez) has velocity and we thought we could at least foul it off (in the squeeze scenario), but (Harris) bunted right through it,” Knaggs said. “I thought it was our best chance to get a run. That hurt.”
Both pitchers had incredible stat lines for the game. Lubking threw all eight innings with four strikeouts. Perez had six punch outs over the full nine frames.
“(Perez is) probably the best right-hander we have faced — best stuff we’ve seen,” Knaggs said. “A lot of our guys were overmatched. He was tough and he got better as he went. The fastball had some really good life to it.”
Because both pitchers were so sharp, the game played at a blistering one hour, 28 minute pace, which would’ve been a record if the game had been played at Paul Thomas Sr. Baseball Stadium, according to local historian and scorekeeper Bruce Bennett.
“The thing was over just so fast,” Knaggs said.
The win marks the third time the Knights have claimed the WCL championship, and only the second time the AppleSox have come in second-place of their seven title-round appearances.
“No matter what, if you aren’t winning your last game, it’s disappointing to sit and watch the other team dog pile on the mound,” Knaggs said. “That’s not what you hope for. They deserved it, I thought they were the best team in the league. The AppleSox have had their share of dog piles in front of that team and they bested us this time.”
The players will now scatter the West Coast to return to their respective schools. Some players left immediately after the game.
“We had five or six that were ready to go (right after the game),” Knaggs said. “Small group on the bus heading back, which is typical this time of year. They have to hustle to school. That’s the way summer baseball ends — we don’t have a banquet, we have a 3-minute banquet in the outfield with a lot of hugs and see-ya-laters.”
Knaggs said despite not taking another WCL Championship, he was happy with how his team competed.
“It feels lousy when it ends, that’s for sure,” the skipper said. “But I was really proud. It was a great game. We just weren’t quite good enough. The better team of these two games ended up winning. Now we’ll look forward to getting going on next year’s team.”