WENATCHEE — One night after setting the West Coast League record for runs scored in a game, the Wenatchee AppleSox didn’t score their second run until the contest was out of hand in the bottom of the ninth.
The Sox dropped the second of a three-game series with the Kelowna Falcons, 8-3, at Paul Thomas Sr. Baseball Stadium on Wednesday.
“I thought we were easy to beat tonight,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs said after the game. “We got some hits, but Joe (Mello), (Connor) Spencer and (Ryan) Barr had them all I think.”
While that wasn’t entirely true — Stockton Taylor, Nate Steffler and Brett Stephens each had at least a hit — the Sox didn’t match the firepower they showed on Tuesday. Kelowna starting pitcher Preston Gray threw a complete game, allowing two meaningless runs in the home team’s last at-bat. Gray wasn’t overpowering — he only had one strikeout — rather, the Wenatchee hitters struggled getting square contact on the ball.
“Pretty sure they were just missing it, but luck did come into play,” Gray said. “I just tried to let my defense work, they’re pretty good behind me.”
Sox starter Trevor Lubking lost another quality start as he gave up three runs on six hits over six innings. But it seemed worse because he was throwing from behind for most of the outing, and his defense didn’t make his night any easier by making two errors — only one of the runs he surrendered was earned.
“Trevor did fine, he just got snakebit by our defense,” Knaggs said.
Lubking allowed two straight singles to start the top of the fourth, then an error by the third baseman Taylor allowed the first run of the game to score and Grayson Porter to reach first. Then, Jarryd Klemm hit the Falcons’ only extra-base hit to score Porter.
In the sixth, Porter hit a single to right, and got all the way to third when Barr made a poor throw from right field. Two hitters later, Klemm hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-1.
“Those are pretty easy runs, you just can’t make errors on routine balls,” Knaggs said. “I thought that got them going a little bit. And we weren’t able to get after them.”
Gray was the beneficiary of two early double-plays that negated leadoff singles in the first and second innings. The pitcher from Heflin, La., faced the minimal of hitters through the fourth.
The only silver lining for Wenatchee batters on Wednesday came in the bottom of the ninth, when Barr hit his 15th double of the season, which claimed the AppleSox single-season record.
“It feels good,” the right fielder from the University of Portland said. “I tied (the record) a couple games ago, it’s just nice to get it off your back. Now there’s nothing to live up to, I can just go out and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Knaggs said that it is quite the accomplishment considering the team hasn’t even reached the all-star break.
“It’s early in the season (to be breaking season records),” the skipper said. “We’ve had some pretty good players play here. It surprises me, to think, ‘wow’ to break it with the number of games we have left. There have been a lot of good players and he’s in good company.”
The AppleSox will look to salvage the series today with new pitcher Josh Phelps, of Community Colleges of Spokane, on the hill. Wenatchee pitching coach A.J. Proszeck — who serves in the same role for Spokane — said Phelps is a big-righty with three pitches and a fastball that is usually in the high-80s.
Knaggs believes his team will just have to take care of business and not get too wrapped up in individual wins and losses.
“We’ve been pretty good at being consistent and playing pretty consistent baseball,” he said. “We haven’t necessarily been world-beaters and we haven’t been horrible, as a general rule. I don’t get too concerned about thinking this game will change how they come out tomorrow.”