WENATCHEE – Sometimes that first inning can just bury you, and for that AppleSox that was the case Wednesday night.
They did themselves in with a three-error, four-run inning to open the game and could never climb out of the hole, falling 8-3 to the Victoria HarbourCats in the second of a three-game set at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.
“I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s tough when you give up four in the first. We got to make plays,” head coach Kyle Krustangel said after the loss in which his team committed five errors. We were reacting to the ball being hit instead of staying focused, taking a good pre-pitch and getting the mind right so that when balls come our way the footwork is right. But I feel that defense is one that can turn the page on a nightly basis.”
Though he finished the first, James Kulak was unable to go out for the second inning with what Krustangel described after the game as concussion-like symptoms and was replaced by Sam Wyatt, who had the tough job of getting ready quickly but was steady in relief. The senior out of Northern Colorado tossed 5 ⅓ and allowed one unearned run to come in, striking out three.
Unfortunately, Wenatchee was just unable to really get anything going off the HarbourCats starter, Aaron Celestino, who allowed only four hits and struck out five in six innings of work.
Cole McKenzie, Kody Darcy and Trent Sellers had each had multi-hit games, but the AppleSox scattered only eight total in the contest and struggled with runners in scoring position, though they were able to push one across in the seventh and another in the eighth off McKenzie’s second base-knock.
Cameron Sommer came in relief for Wyatt in the sixth and was serviceable, though as Krustangel pointed out after the game, all three (Kulak, Wyatt and Sommer) need to work on their delivery to the dish.
The HarbourCats, who led the league in stolen bases last year, stole five bags Wednesday night.
“We knew going into the series and talked to the middle (infielders) about spending time holding runners on from second because we knew that was a big part of their gameplan,” Krustangel said. “This is the first time we've seen these arms and how they hold runners and use their pickoff moves. We got to get to work with Cameron, Sam and James, who being a lefty, he needs to show the pick move especially when they’ve stolen on the first pitch prior.”
“We also got to get quicker to the dish. At 1.4 or 1.5 seconds we could have anyone back there and we’re not throwing out runners. It’s stuff we can sure up in the bullpen and then get out on the mound and see them work slide-step more (while) working pickoff moves. It’s stuff to work on, but that’s why you play the games.”
With a combined nine errors in the game, neither team was exactly flawless in the field. Wenatchee has committed at least three errors now in all three of their games so far this season.
They’ll look to tighten that up Thursday night in the rubber-match before the AppleSox head down to Yakima for the weekend. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m.