WENATCHEE — Pop the corks, it’s celebration time.
The AppleSox have clinched their first playoff spot in six years after blanking the Ridgefield Raptors 5-0 Wednesday night and will face Victoria in the divisional round next week.
“It feels good, a lot of guys have put on the AppleSox jersey this year and we’re still playing hard for the guys that had to go back — one of which being closer Landon Schirer who got injured in his last outing and was sent home as a precaution,” Krustangel said postgame. “Obviously it’s been a long time since the Sox have been in and we’re fired up to represent Sox nation.”
Wenatchee struggled out of the gate, winning only one of their first eight games in June, but there has not been another team hotter in the WCL over the last month. The AppleSox are (21-7) in their last 28 games, have won 10 straight and their last 14 at home.
They just flipped a switch once July hit.
“Guys are just approaching the game differently, playing loose and having fun,” Krustangel said. “Earlier in the year, if we would get down early it was almost like the game was over, but right now, we’re competing all the way through and sometimes when you’re on a hot-streak you just find ways to win. But it’s been a pretty incredible run.”
Pitching has been key, but the starters have received plenty of run support as well, with the AppleSox plating five or more in nine of their last 10 games. Wenatchee is (26-7) this year when they score at least five and (20-6) when homering, which they did twice Wednesday with Kody Darcy and Ryan Alternberger both leaving the yard on back-to-back shots in the fifth.
Darcy’s home run also set a new single-season record for the AppleSox, who have clubbed 33 dingers so far this season, breaking their previous mark set in 2017.
“(That) means a lot because home runs come when guys are on the hunt for their pitch and location,” Krustangel said. “This group has done a good job (of) not missing when they get quality pitches. The reason we are where we are is a lot of swings can change momentum, and at this level, momentum change and lead grabs secure a lot of wins.”
No lead changes were needed in this one though.
The AppleSox jumped on top in the third with Hunter Montgomery singling home Blake Klassen and that was all starter Jake Saum needed.
The incoming freshman out of UCLA diced the Raptors up for eight innings, allowing just four runners to reach base while punching out eight. He was practically unhittable.
Brett Gillis closed out the ninth and struck out two. All in all, Wenatchee allowed just one Ridgefield runner to reach scoring position the entire game.
Wenatchee is going for its third sweep in-a-row Thursday and will have Seth Kuykendall on the bump.
“It’s huge playing for another sweep, but with the playoffs clinched I’ll give some of the guys a break and we’ll have a different lineup out there,” Krustangel said. “But we still expect to go out there and compete and we got another good arm (in Kuykendall) that can throw up some zeros.”
First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.