BREMERTON — The Wenatchee AppleSox went from a team that struggled to get the bases-clearing hit, to a team that will blow out its opponent with regularity.
Not only have the Sox won their last five games — including a dominant 11-1 victory Saturday on the road against the Kitsap BlueJackets — but they’ve done it with a +29 run differential.
The AppleSox have also scored in the first inning of each game of their most-recent winning streak. On Saturday, Brett Stephens and Grant Palmer led the game off with walks, and after a Brock Slavin fly out, the speedy UCLA-commit Stephens scored on a Connor Spencer groundout, making it a 1-0 game.
Wenatchee really started to pile it on in the third, when Palmer, Slavin and Spencer hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases. Then Jake Bruml — who has been primarily a pitcher for the past couple weeks, but played first base Saturday — hit a single to plate Palmer. Two hitters later, Joey Harris hit a single to score Slavin and Spencer. Stephens had a two-out hit of his own to bring Bruml home after Nate Steffler was hit by a pitch. Harris was tagged out for the last out of the frame, but the damage was done, and the AppleSox left the inning up 5-0.
“We didn’t really smash the cover off the ball, we just hit it where they weren’t,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs said in a phone interview. “We stayed consistent and had a lot of runners on. (Hits getting through is) what happens when things are going good.”
A five-run lead was more than enough for pitcher C.J. Burdick, who earned himself a start by throwing so well out of the bullpen.
Burdick didn’t disapoint in his first start of the summer: The future University of San Diego Torero threw 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only five hits and one run. More impressively, Burdick struck out seven without walking a single BlueJacket.
“(Burdick) didn’t give them a chance to get any momentum going their way,” Knaggs said. “He was very impressive. Getting six-plus innings out of him was huge, he made it look easy.”
Burdick was relieved capably by Wenatchee Valley College righty Lars Rider, who finished the last 2 1/3 innings, allowing only one-base runner.
“Pitching with a 10 run lead — that can be pretty easy,” Knaggs said.
The AppleSox pitchers were given plenty of run support as the Wenatchee hitters had the most hits they’ve logged all summer in a single game at 17.
The Sox will now look to complete the series and season-sweep of the BlueJackets today with Davis Engle on the mound. The last time Engle threw against Kitsap, he went seven innings, allowing only six hits and two runs.
“(Engle has been) an awfully good Sunday starter for us,” Knaggs said. “He’s thrown well in the red jerseys (that the Sox traditionally wear on Sundays).”