MEDFORD, Ore. — There are more painful ways of losing a doubleheader than how the AppleSox lost their twinbill Tuesday in Medford, Ore., but you’d have to brainstorm for a while to come up with one.
Wenatchee lost both games — which were only seven innings due to Monday’s rainout — in the Rogues’ last at-bat. In the nightcap, Sox starter Trevor Lubking took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh and still got his third loss of the season.
“It’s baseball,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs. “(Tuesday) was a tough day, we got kicked in the teeth a little bit. We played well, we did everything we could, played hard. A guy like that, pitching well, two outs away from a no-hitter — it was one of those days, the game ripped our hearts out a little bit. It’ll do that sometimes.”
Lubking allowed only two baserunners before the seventh, when he ran into some control issues after retiring the leadoff hitter. After Daniel McNabb reached on a walk, Caleb Palensky stepped into the box and quickly fell behind 2-1.
“(Lubking) threw a pitch that easily could’ve been called strike three, a pitch that had been called strike three in that game,” Knaggs said. “So it goes to 2-2. The wind had died down, the wind was blowing in for most of the day. But that kid put an awfully good swing on a two-strike pitch to hit a home run that ended the game.”
It was a particularly frustrating loss, considering eight out of the nine Sox starters had at least one hit.
“We swung the bats well, not a lot to show for it, though,” Knaggs said about his team getting 10 hits but only one run.
The AppleSox kicked off the afternoon game by scoring a run in the top of the first, just to give up three in the bottom half of the inning.
“We didn’t pitch real well that first inning after we came out and scored one and then they get three and that was a blow for us,” Knaggs said. “It gave them some momentum.”
Starter Stuart Patke settled in after that frame, allowing only one more run in the third, which ran the Rogues lead to 4-1.
But Wenatchee scored three in the top of the sixth to tie the game up and could’ve scored more, but a missed squeeze sign cost the Sox a chance for more as Ryan Barr grounded into a double play to end the inning.
“We missed our chance,” Knaggs said. “If we had gotten up we had (West Coast League single-season saves record holder Tyler) Kane in the bullpen. Didn’t get a chance to use him.”
The AppleSox will look to take at least one game of the three-game series today at 6:35 p.m. with Jake Bruml on the mound. Knaggs said the team doesn’t need to adjust much and should be able to use the unfortunate result of Tuesday’s games to its advantage.
“They’re not happy, it’s going to take us continuing with what we tried to do, we’ll have to play hard,” the skipper said. “There’s no mystery to what it’s going to take. Guys are what they are, and hopefully they get the confidence they need.”
Help is on the way
With third baseman Bob Cruikshank — from University of San Francisco — “on the shelf” with a back injury for the rest of the summer, the AppleSox were desperate to add some infield help. This led them to Joe Mello, a left-handed hitting infielder who can play second, shortstop and third.
“We’re an injury away from disaster,” Knaggs said about his infielder shortage, which was compounded by shortstop Nate Steffler’s ankle injury on Friday. “We only have three guys who can play those three spots. If we had someone else go down, I don’t know what we’d do.”
Mello just finished his second year at Cabot Community College and is heading to Lewis-Clark State in the fall.
“He can run a little bit, and will be a lot of help in the infield,” Knaggs said.
The Sox are also welcoming Andrew Rohrbach, a right-handed pitcher out of College of the Canyons who will be joining the Gonzaga baseball team for the upcoming season.
“Fastball, slider guy, and the Zags like him,” Knaggs said.
Both players will be joining the team in Medford today.