WALLA WALLA — The AppleSox (20-20, 8-5) are hoping Wednesday night’s 7-4 loss to the Sweets becomes an outlier as they make their final push over the next three weeks.
Because the Sox had the Sweets. But Walla Walla, assisted by four Wenatchee errors, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, plating five runs off the AppleSox bullpen over the final two innings.
After winning seven-straight the Sox have lost three of their last four games and are one game back of Victoria for first in the North.
Starter Ryan Long did his job and was in line for the win after giving Wenatchee six quality innings, allowing just five hits and striking out four, but his outing was squandered in seventh. Reliever’s Cameron Sommer and Landon Schirer just didn’t have their stuff. And they didn’t get a lot of help behind them.
After Sommer plunked Michael Petrie to lead off the inning, Connor Kiffer booted a ground ball to put two runners on. Petrie later moved over to third on a comeback groundball to Sommer and then scored on an RBI single from Patrick Caulfield that chased Sommer from the game. Schirer then walked the first batter he faced, before giving up a single and double that gave Walla Walla a 6-4 lead.
For head coach Kyle Krustangel, Sommer and Schirer were just falling behind in too many counts.
“For the pen to be successful, they’re getting two first-pitch strikes and working ahead,” Krustangel said to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman postgame. “Cam kept falling behind and (the Sweets) had some good swings with two strikes, I think all but one run came with two outs.”
Wenatchee bat around the lineup and plated four runs in the fourth inning, but they were unable to push one across after that. The AppleSox also outhit the Sweets 10-8 – which typically means a Sox win, holding a (16-4) record when they out-knock their opponent – but Wenatchee couldn’t get a timely hit.
“We had a chance to score with guys on second and third and no one out but couldn’t get them in,” Krustangel said, “And we weren’t sharp. There were a few too many errors and all three phases were average… But the guys want it. We’ll look to even the series (Thursday) and then play for a series win.”
“Hopefully, we’ll put a few more balls in play and not let teams off the hook. We had way too many punchouts off guys (without) major velocity. I felt the difference was we still seem selective and are guessing and (the Sweets) threw their hands and got some ugly hits. But those are line drives in the book.”
Walla Walla has now won three of their four games against Wenatchee this season, though all of them have been close – the first three were all separated by a run.
Unfortunately for Kodie Kolden, his hitting-streak comes to an end at 11 games after he finished 0-for-4 with a sac bunt.
Ryan Altenberger increased his WCL walks lead with two more free-passes and Johnny Sage reached base in four of his five trips, with a pair of base-knocks and two walks. Despite committing three errors in the field, Kiffer finished 2-for-3 with an RBI sac-fly.
Wenatchee hands the ball to Seth Kuykendall, who is (1-1) with a 1.77 ERA Thursday. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m.