WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee AppleSox clearly did not take getting swept by Corvallis lightly.
The Sox returned to North Central Washington hitting the ball all over Paul Thomas Sr. Baseball Stadium. Wenatchee had a season-high 19 hits in a dominating 10-2 win over the Medford Rogues on Saturday.
“You’re a little past the middle of this thing, and you’re doing this over and over. You have a tough series in Corvallis, a couple days off, and you kind of wonder how we’re going to be,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs said after the game. “It was nice that the guys came out and played really well.”
Medford starting pitcher Brett DeRooy recorded two quick outs to start the first, but then surrendered three straight singles to Brock Slavin, Andre Real and Connor Spencer. Slavin scored on Real’s shot to left, but the Sox stranded three after Stockton Taylor struck out to end the inning with Wenatchee up 1-0.
The AppleSox tacked on another run in the bottom of the second as Grant Palmer cashed in a two-out double from shortstop Joe Mello. But Wenatchee left a pair of baserunners on the paths after Real flew out after a Slavin walk.
That 2-0 lead didn’t last very long. Medford led off the third with a single from Danny McNabb, who was sacrificed over to second by Ray McIntire. Then Joe Chavez drove a double to deep left-center field to plate McNabb. After a strikeout, Wenatchee starter Beau Kerns worked Kevin Davidson to a 2-2 count but couldn’t get the called third strike despite a well-placed inside fastball. Davidson eventually slapped a single to right to plate Chavez, who tied the game 2-2.
“I left balls up a little bit,” Kerns said about the third inning. “Guys started stringing hits together — one after another — and you get into trouble. But, I worked out of it.”
That frame proved to be Kerns’ only blemish as the righty retired 13 straight afterward. The former Wenatchee Valley College Knight finished with six strikeouts over seven innings, allowing just five hits without walking a Rogue hitter.
“Overall, it was a good day,” Kerns said. “Guys really picked me up. I was hitting spots, getting the breaking ball over.”
The AppleSox hitters allowed Kerns some comfort in the bottom of the sixth, when they started the frame with three straight bunt-singles from UCLA-bound Brett Stephens, Mello and Palmer.
“I’ve been saying that all year, ‘bunts get things going,’ ” Knaggs said. “Teams don’t do a good job of defending the bunt.”
After the trio of bunts, Slavin scored Stephens on a fielder’s-choice, and Real got the job done one batter later by plating Mello on a sacrifice fly to left. Then Connor Spencer recorded his fourth single of the evening — he went 5-for-5, bringing his average up to .360 — which brought Slavin home.
“(Spencer) just seems to just do what he wants to do up there,” Knaggs said. “He is very calm, and he doesn’t try to do too much. Some pro guys would say, ‘hey he has to hit for some more power,’ but that’s the stuff that’ll come. But boy, he is so accomplished.”
Spencer eventually scored when Ryan Barr reached on an error from the third baseman. Medford pitcher Dillon Keene saved himself and the inning by gloving a screaming line drive from Stockton Taylor, which ended the inning. But the damage was done and the Sox led 6-2.
Wenatchee added another insurance run in the seventh before Houston Hibberd could relieve Kerns. The Sox scored seven of their 10 runs with two outs.
It turned into a blowout in the bottom of the eighth, when Spencer led off with a double down the left field line. One batter later, Barr tied the AppleSox single-season record for doubles when he stroked his 14th two-bagger deep over the center fielder’s head. Spencer then scored when Taylor slapped a single to left. Then catcher Eric Hutting, not wanting to be the only Sox position player without a hit in the game, grooved a single to right, which plated Barr. Taylor scored the game’s last run on a Stephens single.
Hibberd picked up where Kerns left off, retiring five straight before hitting Parker Miles and walking Nico Pacheco in the top of the ninth. Hibberd then slammed the door on Medford by getting Matt Taylor to fly out to right.
With Saturday’s win — which brings Wenatchee’s record to 18-13 — the AppleSox are back into a tie with Walla Walla for first-place of the North Division of the West Coast League.
The Sox will look to continue their hot play tonight in the second of the three-game series against the Rogues with C.J. Burdick on the mound.
“The guy on the mound always has a big impact on how the game plays out,” Knaggs said. “In a wood bat league, getting ahead of hitters, you have to make them swing the bat, because we tend to — knock on wood — defend pretty well.”
Monda out, Kane signs, Berberet hurt
Washington State standout Jason Monda will not play again for the AppleSox this summer due to scheduling conflicts.
The sixth-round pick was slated to be a weekend-player for the early part of the season, joining the team full time sometime next week. But scheduling difficulties and concerns about how many innings he can pitch have led the team to shut him down for the summer.
Starter Vaughn Berberet is experiencing some tightness in his elbow and will miss his third start in a row today. Knaggs said that the lefty can hope to start working out of the bullpen when his arm starts feeling better, and that Burdick will take his place in the rotation for now.
Closer Tyler Kane — the single-season record holder for saves in the WCL – signed with the Miami Marlins on Thursday, one day before the signing deadline. Knaggs said earlier that he hadn’t expected Kane to stay too long this summer, and that he was happy to have the hard throwing righty for as long as he did.
“We’ll look for another arm,” Knaggs said.
Jacob Palmer: @JPalmWW