WENATCHEE – The AppleSox just keep on rolling at Paul Thomas Sr Stadium.
They’ve now won nine-straight and five-in-a-row after thumping the Cascade Collegiate League (CCL) 13-0 in their final non-league game of the summer Wednesday evening.
With Brett Garcia on the bump, the game was essentially over after the first inning. The redshirt sophomore out of UC Irvine dominated from the first pitch and delivered one of the most complete performances of the summer from an AppleSox starter. In five innings of work, he allowed just one hit, walked two and fanned a dozen. That’s right, 12 punch outs.
Cascade Collegiate League managed to put just four balls in play against Garcia, who had everything working. Curve. Knuckle. Fastball. It was all there.
“He was getting ahead, locating his fastball well and they couldn’t hit it,” head coach Kyle Krustangel said to broadcaster Joel Norman postgame.
Despite this being only his third outing and first start of the summer, Garcia looked at ease on the hill. He worked ahead of nearly every batter, changed eye level and mixed in his breaking pitches well.
“I wanted to keep my tempo and wanted to get each batter in four pitches or less to minimize my pitch count,” Garcia told Norman after collecting his second win in an AppleSox uniform. “I (also) wanted to keep (runners) off second and third.”
Only two CCL batters reached second base and none reached third through the first seven innings.
The AppleSox weren’t doing much better offensively through the first four innings, scratching a pair of runs off a sac fly and a throwing error, but tuned the CCL bullpen up for 11 runs over the next three innings, including six in the seventh.
Over the stretch, Wenatchee batters drew seven walks and recorded seven hits. Alex Jemal collected three RBI’s, Justin Lutz was plunked in two consecutive innings and Connor Kiffer walked three times.
It was just kind of a weird, long stretch, with Wenatchee nearly batting around in the sixth before doing so in the seventh. But it also set up the chance for Krustangel to make good on a prior bet with Ryan Altenberger, who was originally given the day off, came in to pitch the eighth inning.
He looked solid for a position player and even mixed in a couple of knuckleballs as he tried to punch out each batter. Altenberger loaded the bases but got out of the jam after getting Beau Flowers to roll out to Jason Harayda.
Kodie Kolden then came in closed the door in the ninth, striking out the side.
“I owed a couple of innings to (those) knuckleheads,” Krustangel said. “You might not know this but Kolden was an All-State pitcher and was named pitcher of the year in Idaho in high school. He threw an inning for the Cougs this year and felt he needed a redemption after giving up a few. They didn’t look too bad out there.”
Krustangel held his side of the bargain with the position players. Now he has to do so with the pitchers. Because Wenatchee got the shutout, pitchers will get to lead off BP on Friday with metal bats.
“I’m sure Seth (Kuykendall) brought his up in anticipation for Friday’s BP,” Krustangel joked. “That’s a lot of wins in a row, it’s been nice to have home-field advantage and give the fans something to cheer about. But we’re back in the playoff push Friday and fired up to get back to work.”
The AppleSox open up a three-game series against Yakima Valley on Friday before playing their final home-stand against Ridgefield next week. First pitch on Friday is at 6:35 p.m.