WENATCHEE — Right time, right call, perfect execution.
With runners on the corners and the game tied with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Bellingham made a mound visit to try and calm down reliever Danny Garcia, who had just given up two singles, and talk things through. But what that allowed was AppleSox head coach Kyle Krustangel to draw up a second-pitch suicide squeeze with Kodie Kolden at the dish.
After taking a first-pitch strike, Kolden got the bunt down, driving in Hunter Montgomery to walk-off the Bells 3-2, in a game the AppleSox (14-17) had to have at Paul Thomas Sr Stadium.
“That’s a play we have talked about and ran before, it’s a bread-and-butter Yak(ima) play,” Krustangel said of the squeeze. “As soon as they took the mound visit Hunter was saying, ‘Second pitch suicide,’ and Kodie had a big smile on his face — which lets you know you got the right guy to get it done.”
“The second pitch prevents a pitchout or a spike(d) breaking ball in a pitchers count, and surprises them. And the squeeze is indefensible.”
But honestly, Koldens’ best moment came two innings prior in the seventh. After turning a monumental double-play to squash the Bells chances in the top half, Kolden drove in fellow midfielder Kody Darcy on a sac-fly to center following a seven-pitch at-bat. Darcy, who led off the inning with a single, set up the run after getting a good read and stealing third.
“(That) at-bat was probably the play of the game,” Krustangel said. “Kudos to Darcy first for picking up on pitchers’ tendency taking the free-90. Those are big runs, and between him and (Blake) Klassen, they are trusting the system and hunting what they are given. The Sox are playing well.”
Friday’s win comes off the heels of Thursday night’s offensive explosion in which the AppleSox plated 16 runs in a 16-2 rout over the Bend Elks.
Wenatchee mustered only a quarter of that Friday, but that was all the AppleSox needed with Seth Kuykendall on the hill. Kuykendall was hit with the no-decision, but looked strong through six innings of work, striking out seven and walking two. He got into a few jams in the second, fourth and sixth innings, but pitched his way out of it all three times.
While Kuykendall won’t blow anyone away with his speed, he locates his pitches well and does a marvelous job of mixing up his delivery.
“I was just trying to keep them off balance,” Kuykendall said after the win. “They are a good hitting team but we were able to turn a couple of double plays, which were huge.”
Wenatchee plated a run in the first inning for the second straight night, with Cole McKenzie coming around to score on a Texas-leaguer to right off the bat of Dalton Harum. With that, Wenatchee improves to (9-6) when scoring first and (11-4) when collecting 10 hits — the AppleSox managed 11.
“It was a big win and we talked about it last night. Knowing Bellingham finished second in the first half, to get through our tough division we would have to take care of them,” Krustangel said. “Now we turn the page and play for the series.”
The AppleSox are (2-2) so far in the second half of the season and will look to take the series with a win Saturday night. Owen Leonard is the projected starter with first pitch at 6:35 p.m., on Marco Gonzales Bobblehead night.