KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The AppleSox find themselves in unfamiliar territory for this season after their win against the Klamath Falls Gems on Thursday.
Wenatchee is now 10-9 after winning its second straight game on their Southern Oregon road trip, this time in a three-game-series opener against the Gems.
“It was nice to win on the road,” AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs said after the game in a phone interview. “We haven’t played great on the road. It’s tough, it just is.”
Despite scoring in the first inning, it didn’t look good for Wenatchee early in Thursday’s contest. Starting pitcher Beau Kerns struggled locating his offspeed pitches and ended up surrendering two home runs in the bottom of the fifth, putting the Sox in a 5-1 deficit.
“It’s a short porch,” Knaggs said about the short outfield fences at Kiger Stadium. “It was tough for us, we just hung in there. But, I was disappointed with how we played for most of that game.”
But the Sox kept chipping away at the plate and got two runs back in the top of the sixth when Wenatchee had a rare two-out rally. Ryan Barr — who went 3-for-4 on the evening with a walk — hit a single, as did shortstop Joe Mello the next at-bat. Catcher Eric Hutting then plated Barr by reaching on an error and Brett Stephens scored Mello on a single.
The Gems got a run back in the bottom of the sixth, but couldn’t keep the Sox offense at bay all night. Stockton Taylor led off the top of the eighth with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and was scored on a Barr double. Barr scored two hitters later on a Hutting single.
“That play was just a kick in the teeth to (the Gems),” Knaggs said. “It was neat for Eric (Hutting) too, he’s been swinging the bat well.”
After a Brock Slavin groundout, Andre Real hit a double in the top of the ninth. Real moved to third on an error by the first baseman and scored on a close play at the plate on a sacrifice fly.
“Their second baseman catches it, wheels and throws a perfect strike to the plate. And we got a break on a close call,” Knaggs said.
West Coast League single-season saves record holder Tyler Kane closed the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The AppleSox will send lefty Vaughn Berberet to the mound for the second game of the series today.
“These (Gems hitters) thump that fastball, and I need a guy with softer stuff out there to mix it up,” Knaggs said about the southpaw hurler. “I like our chances. I do.”