WENATCHEE — Nearly 2,000 fans packed into Paul Thomas Senior Stadium on Wednesday night to watch not only the fireworks show after but also the matchup between the Wenatchee AppleSox and Kelowna Falcons.
The AppleSox had hoped to pick up some ground as the Falcons came into the series in last place the West Coast League’s North Division. However, Kelowna has given the AppleSox all they could handle in the first two games.
After losing 5-3 on Tuesday night, Wenatchee fell again to the visiting Falcons 6-3 on Wednesday night.
AppleSox starter Ryan Long was roughed up for three runs in the first inning on a 2-out, 3-run homer by Josh Lewis. The Falcons led 3-0. Pitching for Kelowna was righthander Gabe Smith.
Wenatchee looked to be coming right back in the bottom of the first as Johnny Sage and Hunter Montgomery singled. Blake Klassen walked to load the bases with 2-outs, but Kodie Kolden popped to short to end the inning.
The AppleSox came back with a run in the bottom of second as Quinn Ayers singled and scored on the Dalton Harum RBI double. Back to back walks to Sage and Cole McKenzie loaded the bases again with 2-outs. Montgomery flew out to left to end the inning.
Wenatchee cut the lead to 3-1.
The AppleSox cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the third as Klassen homered to right field to lead off the inning. Righthander Dylan Ames came in for the Falcons in the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, a single by McKenzie and walks to Harum and Montgomery loaded the bases again, this time with one out. However, Klassen hit into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
After pitching three scoreless innings, Long ran into trouble in the top of the fifth on back to back singles and an RBI double to push the lead to 4-2. Long came out of the game with two outs. Righthander Owen Leonard came in relief for the final out.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kolden walked and scored the Kody Darcy RBI double with 2-outs. Harum flew out to center to end the rally. Wenatchee cut the lead to 4-3.
It remained a 4-3 game into the top of the seventh when Leonard ran into trouble. Two Falcons singled and both came home on the 2-RBI double by Richie Seday. That pushed the lead to 6-3. Cameron Sommer came on in relief to record the final out. Harum singled with 1-out in the bottom of the eighth, but the AppleSox could not find the hits to start a rally. In the bottom of the ninth, Kolden and Ayres singled with 2-out. DH Ryan Altenberger represented the tying run.
Kelowna brought out closer Cade Pritchard for the final out, a strikeout. Wenatchee Head Coach Kyle Krustangel lamented not being able to come up with big hit they needed it, especially with the bases loaded.
“We had 15 runners on base, six after the first two frames. We were really missing a big 2-out hit. They had a big 3-run bomb with two outs. They end up winning by three,” Krustangel said. “We got some things going but just could not get a good swing outside of Kody Darcy’s double in the gap with two outs. Much different ball game with even one or two different swings of the bat.”
Krustangel said his team has been right there the past two nights as a big hit here or there could have made the difference. Even though Kelowna had a worse record coming into the series, they have dominated with their pitching.
“They had a big lefty reliever last night was a tough an arm as we’ve seen. That guy was stifling and threw 3.3 innings of scoreless baseball with three punch outs,” Krustangel said. “Our starter could have come out of the game in one inning with the bases juiced, but he was able to roll through 4 innings.”
Starter Ryan Long took the loss. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 7 hits with 2 walks and one strikeout.
Early on, Krustangel said they were falling behind in counts, which they simply cannot do.
“That led to the early 3-run bomb. It just kept falling into advantage counts for the hitters.
In this league, when you get too many advantage counts and they are going to make you pay. A big change is their pitchers were not falling behind a lot. They were working ahead in counts and we were working behind early. They made us pay,” Krustangel said.
Each team had 12 hits. The AppleSox had one error. Krustangel said it is always fun to play on fireworks night in front of the big crowd.
“There was great support tonight with a lot of people. The guys are excited to play before the crowd. It’s always been an arms opening community here in Wenatchee. It’s fun to see everybody out,” he said.
Wenatchee falls to 9-14 with the loss, while Kelowna improves to 8-14. The two teams will play the final game of the three-game series on Thursday. Krustangel said there is no reason to push the panic button.
He’ll send Jake Saum to the mound on Thursday.
“We know we’ll get a tough 5-6 innings out of him. We’ll have our bullpen arms ready to go. If we can get Jake a lead, we can turn it over to our back end guys,” Krustangel said.