WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee AppleSox fell behind early Wednesday and never put up much of a fight afterward, losing to the Bellingham Bells 6-2 at home.
Sox starter Stuart Patke got through only the first inning, in which he surrendered six runs on six hits.
“I didn’t like watching that first inning very much, it was frustrating,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs said after the game. “They kicked us around, we could’ve just stopped after one, called it good.”
Wenatchee answered back with two runs of its own in its half of the first after Grant Palmer plated Joe Mello on a double that trickled to the wall in left-center. But the Sox couldn’t sustain any kind of offense after that frame.
“We scored two and you go, ‘oh boy, this might be a wild one.’ And then, it wasn’t,” Knaggs said.
Bells starting pitcher Jason Hager stifled the Sox offense after the first inning, scattering three hits over the next seven frames. The righty dominated despite striking out just two.
“I was struggling a little bit with my command early but made some good pitches late,” Hager said. “I was definitely fortunate tonight.”
But it wasn’t just the AppleSox who struggled after the opening frame, the Bells also failed to get another run. Washington State’s Chris McDowell threw four scoreless innings in relief, future Gonzaga Bulldog Andrew Rohrbach had his best outing of the season and Stockton Taylor of Brewster threw two strong frames.
“As relievers we don’t get many opportunities to get a lot of innings, to get out there and show our stuff,” Rohrbach said. “Since our starter struggled early, we got an opportunity to go out there and carry the load and prove that we can keep the game going, hopefully to put ourselves in a good position to win. Unfortunately we couldn’t do that tonight.”
The loss was not the ideal return to action from the All-Star break as the AppleSox have only 14 league games left on the schedule. The Walla Walla Sweets also lost Wednesday, so they remain tied with the Sox for first-place of the West Coast League North Division. But, the win brings the Bells within a half-game of the top spot.
“It’s going to go quick,” Knaggs said of his team’s schedule. “It’s going to be a battle.”
Blake Phelps, of Community Colleges of Spokane, will get his second start of the year today in the second of the three-game series against Bellingham. Phelps earned a quality start and a win against the Kelowna Falcons last week. He will be taking Trevor Lubking’s spot in the rotation, because the lefty from Pacific Lutheran just threw in the All-Star Game.
“He hasn’t been that sharp, so we’ll give him a bunch of rest and see how he comes back,” Knaggs said of Lubking.
Knaggs said that he and his team have no interest in dwelling on Wednesday’s shortcomings.
“You just have to worry about what you’re doing each day and everything else will take care of itself,” the skipper said. “You don’t control a hell of a lot else, just what you do daily.”