The AppleSox (20-19) enter the All-Star Break with a solid (8-4) second-half record after collecting back-to-back sweeps against Bellingham and Kelowna, but they are still one back of Victoria in the North. And that makes thing’s interesting heading into the final three weeks of the season.
If the HarbourCats hold onto their slim lead — which altogether seems entirely possible given that they’ve been the dominant team in the North all year — the final playoff spot falls to whichever team holds the best overall record.
With Wenatchee, Bellingham and Yakima all separated by two games (overall), it will be a race to 28 wins and likely come down to the final two series of the season. Every win counts.
So Sunday’s sweep-avoiding 5-2 victory over the Bells could prove huge in a couple of weeks.
Wenatchee came into this past weekend riding a 7-game winning streak. The offense was rolling and the pitching supreme. But the bullpen hit a snag Friday night, giving up four runs in the bottom of the eighth, and the offense stalled out on Saturday, generating only two hits through the first eight innings.
The AppleSox did a complete reversal on Sunday though. They scored first and out-hit the Bells 8-7. Gavin Gorrell was superb through nearly six innings. The pen was lights out and Ryan Altenberger (who was named the WCL Player of the Week Monday) hit a two-out, two-run bomb in the ninth inning for good measure — on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
The win gave Wenatchee the edge in the season series (4-2), a one-game cushion over Bellingham in the overall standings and a little momentum, but these final three weeks are not going to be easy.
While nine of Wenatchee’s (15) remaining league games are at home, all of them are against potential playoff teams.
The AppleSox return from their brief break on Wednesday with a three-game set on the road against Walla Walla (20-15). The Sweets took two-of-three from the AppleSox in June and are second overall in the South despite having an abysmal start to their second-half.
Wenatchee then heads home for nine straight against Portland, Yakima Valley and Ridgefield — plus a non-conference game against the Cascade Collegiate League. Portland and Ridgefield are both vying for the final playoff spot in the South while the Pippins currently sit just two back of the AppleSox in the North.
Wenatchee concludes its season on the road against Corvallis, a team that has lost just seven games all year and only two of which in its own ballpark.
No doubt, it will be a grind to the finish, but as Krustangel is so fond of pointing out, the Sox have to take it day-by-day if they want to reach the postseason for the first time in five years.
Just focus on taking two from Walla Walla. The rest will come.