BEND, Ore. — The Wenatchee AppleSox mustered only three hits in the team’s series-finale against the Bend Elks.
The Sox were swept with a 5-1 loss. Wenatchee is now a game-and-a-half away from a playoff spot, which are currently held by Walla Walla and Bellingham.
“It means a lot when you play and do what we do, so when it doesn’t go well, it hurts. It hurts a bunch,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs after the game. “This will be a lousy bus drive after we drop three. Seven-and-a-half hour bus ride home — good times.”
Sox starting pitcher Davis Engel — of Central Washington University — threw six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, but didn’t get a single run of support when he was on the mound.
“I thought Davis competed extremely well on the mound and gave us a chance,” Knaggs said. “He did a good job on those guys and they can hit. But we had absolutely zero going for us.”
Knaggs said that his team was hitting the ball hard, but couldn’t miss a Bend defender.
“We must’ve upset the baseball gods at some point,” he said.
The Elks scored two of their runs in the sixth, when Chase Fields led off with a double. Landon Cray pinch-ran for Fields and scored two hitters later when Seth Spivey hit a single. Spivey eventually scored on a Derek Dixon base-knock, running the score to 3-0.
Wenatchee’s best chance of a comeback came in the top of the seventh, when catcher Eric Hutting reached on a walk to lead off the frame. Joey Jansen then reached on an error by the shortstop and Stockton Taylor loaded the bases with no outs when he was hit by a pitch. But the Sox could muster only one run in the frame on a double-play ball hit by Brett Stephens.
“You think it’s going to be hard enough to double (the speedy Stephens) up, but sure enough he hit it hard enough for them to turn it,” Knaggs said. “That’s just kind of the way things are going.”
The Sox welcome the tied-for-first-place Walla Walla Sweets for a three-game series starting today, which might be the only shred of luck in Wenatchee’s favor right now.
“We have nine league games, and fortunately we’re in a pretty good spot. We’re not where we’re hoping everybody beats everybody else up,” Knaggs said. “We still have some opportunities.”
Stuart Patke will take the ball for the Sox in the series-opener. Patke has struggled as of late: The tall Texan lasted only one inning against Bellingham in his last start, giving up six runs on six hits.
“No one else to throw. It’s what we got, he hasn’t thrown well,” Knaggs said. “He’s due, we’ve got that going for us. We don’t really have any other options.”
Knaggs said his team’s bats will have to perk up if it has any chance at ending the slide it currently finds itself in.
“We’re playing our hardest, not much coming up for us,” the skipper said. “We’re overmatched at a couple spots, but we can’t do much about that now. We’ve got what we got. We have some guys struggling offensively but we don’t have any options. Hopefully they can rally a little bit — a lot would be nice — but that might be asking for too much.”
The Sox do control their own fate of whether they clinch a West Coast League North Division playoff spot of not.
“It can turn on the dime, as it has for us before, but we have to get after it and show some pride and really play hard,” Knaggs said.
NOTES: Outfielder Ryan Barr, of the University of Portland, tied the WCL single-season record for doubles by hitting three in the series against Bend. He now has 18 on the year. … The AppleSox have lost four in a row and seven of their last eight. Walla Walla hasn’t fared much better as the Sweets have lost three of their last five, including two games with seven-plus run deficits. … Sox first baseman Connor Spencer is tied for the WCL lead for batting average at .386. Center fielder Brock Slavin leads the league in runs scored with 32.
Sox lose on Sunday
The Sox held a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, when the Elks scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead, which was the final score because Wenatchee couldn’t push another run across.
AppleSox starter C.J. Burdick left in the sixth with the bases loaded. Lefty Vaughn Berberet inherited those runners and allowed a pair of singles.
Brock Slavin, Ryan Barr and Brett Stephens all had doubles for the Sox, but the team couldn’t muster a run after the fifth.