WENATCHEE — Monday’s Wenatchee AppleSox game had it all for the home crowd: A human-sized hot dog joining the traditional condiment race, a flukey scoreboard outage and — most importantly — a win over a chatty visiting dugout.
The Sox won the game 6-3 and also won the three-game series against the Medford Rogues with strong pitching and timely hitting. Starter Davis Engel threw seven strong innings, scattering seven hits.
“(I) Had a lot of good stuff working for me, figured out my offspeed. It was nice to get ahead of some batters, and yeah, it was nice to get a win, especially in the white jerseys,” Engel said after the game. “After (Sunday’s) game, it was nice to bounce back.”
The AppleSox lost on Sunday in devastating fashion — negating a solid start from pitcher C.J. Burdick — which evidently fired up the Medford team.
Wenatchee didn’t pound the ball — the team had only four hits — but still found ways to score. In the bottom of the second, immediately after the Rogues scored the first run of the game, the AppleSox found themselves with Stockton Taylor and Ryan Barr on first and second. Then, Medford starter Mason Stidham threw two straight wild pitches in the same at-bat, allowing Barr to score and moving Taylor to third. One pitch later, catcher Eric Hutting hit a sacrifice fly to bring Taylor home, putting Wenatchee up 2-1.
The fourth inning proved to be Engel’s only dicey stretch the entire game. The righty from Central Washington University gave up a leadoff double to A.J. Balta, who moved to third on a balk. After a poorly-executed sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Engel worked Matt Taylor to a 2-2 count, when it appeared Engel picked Balta off from third. But the home umpire had granted Hutting time before Engel stepped off the rubber and the pitcher eventually walked Taylor, who scored two hitters later when Taylor committed an error. The Rogues exited that inning ahead 3-2.
But the Sox hitters wouldn’t allow Medford a shut-down inning for the second time that night as Connor Spencer led off the bottom of the fourth with a towering double to right-center field. Real followed with a fly ball that carried over the left field fence, regaining the lead for the AppleSox, 4-3.
“I didn’t think it was going out. You see so few balls go out of here, period, let alone to left field,” Wenatchee head coach Ed Knaggs said. “No-out home runs are kind of rally killers, but certainly we’ll take it. Not that you wanted him to hit a double, but it wouldn’t have been a horrible thing for us.”
The Sox took advantage of some sloppy relief work in the next inning, bringing two runs across the plate to extend the lead for Engel.
Wenatchee Valley College pitcher Lars Rider relieved Engel in the eighth. Engel finished the game, earning the save, without allowing a hit, but that doesn’t mean the final stretch wasn’t nerve-racking. In the top of the ninth, Rider walked Caleb Palensky, who moved to second when second baseman Grant Palmer made an error on a ball hit by Daniel McNabb. With the tying run at the plate, Rider got lead-off hitter Joe Chavez to ground into a fielder’s choice and then faced pinch hitter Kevin Davidson.
“Lars did a nice job. It got a little dicey there, and they brought in a guy who could do some damage,” Knaggs said.
But the hard-throwing Rider got Davidson to strike out on four pitches. Rider said after the game that the amount of chirping Medford was doing got him excited to finish the game.
“It kind of just jacked me up, I was ready just to pump it. Shut them up,” he said about the effect the talking had. “I threw (the last pitch of the game) as hard as I could, and the guy swung, it’s a good feeling.”
After taking two of three from the Rogues at home, the AppleSox find themselves tied for first place of the North Division in the West Coast League with the Walla Walla Sweets at 19-14.
The Kelowna Falcons are the next team to come to Paul Thomas Sr. Baseball Stadium during the current six-game homestand. The Falcons are in last-place of the North, but have won their last three. Stuart Patke will pitch the series-opener.
“We’ll check them out (Tuesday), and if there’s anything we need to be aware of, we’ll be aware of it,” Knaggs said. “Hopefully our guys do what we can do, and we’ll do fine.”
The scoreboard at the stadium went dead in the top of the top of the seventh, when a Rogue foul ball managed to directly hit a lever about the size of a finger on a power box outside of the fence, according to AppleSox owner Jim Corcoran.
Luckily, a WVC maintenance worker was nearby and was able to get the lights back on before the end of the contest.
Jacob Palmer: @JPalmWW