Late Rally Not Enough as Sox' Season Ends

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VICTORIA, B.C. - The Wenatchee AppleSox’ 2019 season ended with an 8-7 loss to the Victoria HarbourCats in Game 3 of the 2019 West Coast League North Division Championship Series.

Trailing by two runs entering the ninth inning, the AppleSox loaded up the bases and scored four runs to take a two-run lead into the bottom of the frame. The HarbourCats scored three times in the bottom half of the inning to walk off the Sox.

After the AppleSox won Game 1 on Tuesday, the HarbourCats won each of the final two games to win the best-of-three series.

Victoria scored first for the first time in the series after three consecutive singles to open the bottom of the first inning. The Sox took the lead back when Cody Simmons drove in two with a two-RBI double in the fourth, but the HarbourCats tied it back up on Griffin Paxton’s second RBI-single of the night in the fifth.

Nick Adams launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to give the HarbourCats a three-run lead, which proved to be the largest of the game for either team.

Despite trailing 5-2, the AppleSox wouldn’t go down quietly. Jashaun Simon doubled with two outs in the top of the seventh and scored when Brett Gillis singled and went to second on a throwing error.

The two teams had scored a combined eight runs through the first eight innings and nearly matched that total in the ninth inning alone. With one out, the AppleSox loaded up the bases and cut the deficit to one when Gillis hit a sacrifice fly. Tanner Smith added to the drama with a two-RBI double to right field and then scored on an RBI single by Torin Montgomery. All told, eight men came to the plate and four runs scored to give the AppleSox a 7-5 lead.

Though they needed just three outs to advance to the West Coast League Championship Series for the first time since 2013, the AppleSox couldn’t record an out in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Plaia led off with a single, Gus Wilson walked and then Griffin Paxton doubled in Plaia to make it a one-run game. Harrison Spohn second Victoria to its second Championship Series in three years with a 2-RBI, walk-off single to right field.

The HarbourCats will face the Corvallis Knights in the Championship Series starting Friday night at 6:35 in Victoria. Like the divisional round, this is a best-of-three series. Corvallis defeated Walla Walla, two-game-to-one, to advance to its fourth straight Championship Series. The Knights will look to add to their WCL-best six championships with another while the HarbourCats look for their first.

Stay tuned to AppleSox.com for the latest offseason information on the team and the soonest updates on the 2020 schedule. ‘Like’ the AppleSox on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram for the latest offseason news.

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AppleSox Fall in Game 2 in Victoria

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VICTORIA, B.C. - The AppleSox committed four errors in a 7-2 loss to the Victoria HarbourCats on Wednesday night at Royal Athletic Park.

Though the Sox struck first for the second straight night, they also stranded eight runners on the basepaths and didn’t collect a base-hit until the sixth inning.

In the first inning, Jashaun Simon drew the first of seven walks on the night to open up the ballgame and stole a couple bases to move to third and then scored on an error. However, the HarbourCats tied it back up after a solo home run in the bottom of the inning.

Two innings later, Wenatchee struck again with the bases loaded when Torin Montgomery reached base on a fielder’s choice. The HarbourCats took the lead with a two-out, two-run homer.

In the fifth, the AppleSox put runners and second and third to lead off the inning but ended up going down 1-2-3 after that. Victoria scored three times in the bottom of the inning and again for one more the sixth.

The Sox face the HarbourCats in a do-or-die Game 3 tonight at 6:35. Gavin Gorrell gets the ball for the AppleSox. Win, and the AppleSox face the winner of Game 3 between the Corvallis Knights and Walla Walla Sweets (also being played tonight) in the West Coast League Championship Series. Lose, and the Sox’ season comes to an end.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interview with head coach Kyle Krustangel below.

Spectacular Saum Delivers Game 1 Victory Over Victoria

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WENATCHEE, WA - Jake Saum tossed seven shutout innings and the AppleSox defeated the Victoria HarbourCats, 5-1, in Game 1 of the North Division Championship Series on Tuesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Saum matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts and tossed three 1-2-3 innings. He has tossed at least five innings in all eight of his starts this summer.

At the plate, Tanner Smith drove in two and collected a pair of hits. Jermaine Ducham plated two and also recorded two hits.

The Sox loaded up the bases in the first inning and scored first when Brett Gillis drew a walk. Two innings later, the AppleSox tacked on another run when Jashaun Simon led off with a single when Ducham hit a sacrifice fly to right field.

In the fourth, the Sox busted out for three runs. Cody Simmons walked and Spencer Marenco walked with one out and then Smith doubled both in with two outs. On the first pitch to Ducham following a pitching change, he singled up the middle to plate Smith.

The HarbourCats scored their only run in the ninth.

Victoria and Wenatchee face off in Game 2 of the North Division Championship Series on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. at Royal Athletic Park. The game can be heard live on the AppleSox Radio Network with pregame coverage beginning at 6:10.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Saum and head coach Kyle Krustangel.

AppleSox Open Postseason Tonight at 6:35

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The Wenatchee AppleSox host the Victoria HarbourCats in Game 1 of the North Division Championship Series of the West Coast League Playoffs tonight at 6:35 at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

The AppleSox clinched a postseason berth for the first time since and need four more wins to claim their sixth West Coast League Championship.

Game 2 is tomorrow night in Victoria at 6:35. If necessary, the two teams will meet up at Royal Athletic Park on Thursday night at 6:35.

Victoria enters tonight’s game as perhaps the top offensive team in the West Coast League this past season. The HarbourCats led the WCL in batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.440), home runs (54), RBI (339), total bases (873) and runs (415). They won both the first and second half titles for the North Division.

All three games against Victoria can be heard live on Sunny FM in Wenatchee as well as other translators throughout Washington listed below.

93.9 FM in Wenatchee Valley
95.3 FM in Lake Chelan Valley
101.3 FM in Brewster/Bridgeport/Pateros
101.9 FM in Omak/Okanogan Valley
106.3 in Methow Valley

The game can also be heard online on the AppleSox website.

Get a full preview of the series by clicking on the game notes below.

Game Notes

AppleSox Confident in Game 1 Starter Saum

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The West Coast League Playoffs offer the lesser of two seeds a unique opportunity: hosting Game 1.

Although the AppleSox will play two of the three games in the North Division Championship Series on the road (if the series goes three games), they have the chance to take a stranglehold on the series by winning the series-opener on Tuesday night at 6:35 at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

With a chance to be in the driver’s seat immediately, there’s no one head coach Kyle Krustangel would rather give the ball to than Jake Saum, an incoming freshman at UCLA.

“I truly believe he is the best pitcher in the West Coast League,” Krustangel said. ”When he becomes draft eligible again after his junior year, this is a guy that’s going to be a first-round pick.”

That’s high praise for someone who has never pitched in an NCAA game.

With Saum, the hype is real and deserved. He finished the 2019 regular season with the fourth-best ERA (2.80) and the sixth-most strikeouts (54) in the WCL. Saum has tossed at least five innings in all seven of his starts and has also appeared in two games in relief. He was one of four AppleSox All-Stars, but the only one who was an incoming freshman.

Every time Saum toes the rubber, the AppleSox know they have a strong chance to win. Wenatchee has only lost one of the seven games that Saum has started and has won in each of his last three. He toed the rubber most recently on Aug. 7 and delivered a season-high eight shutout innings against the Ridgefield Raptors to help the Sox clinch their first playoff berth since 2013.

The Sox are energized every time Saum takes the mound, but are especially electric when the southpaw starts a home game. Wenatchee is 4-0 in Saum’s four starts at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium and he has a 2.16 ERA in games in Wenatchee this summer.

Saum has struck out at least five in all but one start and punched out a season-best 10 batters against the Bend Elks on July 11. The southpaw’s fastball typically hangs in the upper 80’s to low 90’s and clocked as high as 93 in his season-debut on June 15.

This all comes after posting a microscopic 0.92 ERA while going 6-3 in 12 games as a senior at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, California, this past spring.

Even in games that he has experienced adversity, Saum still finds ways to amaze. On July 20 at Bellingham, Saum surrendered three runs on three hits. Despite the slow start, Saum wouldn’t allow 16 of the final 19 batters that he faced to reach base and didn’t allow any hits after the second inning. The four runs allowed represented a single-game high for Saum in 2019, but he still punched out six.

Again, on Aug. 2, Saum allowed three runs on two hits and a season-high five walks but he still managed to go five innings once again. He even no-hit the Yakima Valley Pippins through the first three innings.

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What separates Saum from other pitchers his age is his drive to be great. He knows what he wants to be and is willing to work as hard as possible to accomplish that goal.

"I think what makes Saum so special,” Krustangel said, “is not just what the fans can see. It’s the work he does on off days. Every time I’m at the gym, he’s at the gym. He’s first one here every day doing his arm care.”

Saum is always working to improve his game, whether he is pitching that day or not. On road trips, Krustangel says Saum is the first to ask him what gym the players have access to. Pitching coach Tyler VonDracek typically loans his coaches jacket to his starting pitchers and said that he doesn’t wear it again on days that Saum starts because of how sweaty it gets. Every day, you’ll find Saum long-tossing in the outfield or running the warning track prior to games.

Even on days where he seems filthy, Saum is still critical of himself and looking to improve. After striking out eight against Ridgefield, Saum still thought he could have done better.

“I wasn’t too worried about where (the ball) was going,” Saum said, “but I was just trying to throw strikes and make people work. There weren’t a ton of strikeouts, but I just let them put it in play and let the defense make plays behind me.”

Saum is one of the eight remaining players on the AppleSox to have played in June. Because of that, he is a leader on this Sox’ team in many ways. Over the last couple weeks he has become more vocal in the dugout and, along with the other remaining players, has helped welcome newcomers into the Sox’ winning environment.

Even if he is just an incoming freshman, there’s no doubt that Saum is the man that the AppleSox want on the mound in Tuesday’s pivotal game. This could be the first of many big playoff games in which Saum gets the ball at the collegiate level. The AppleSox are confident in their ace to get the job done.

AppleSox Lose Regular Season Finale

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CORVALLIS, OR - The AppleSox dropped the final game of the regular season, 3-0, to the Corvallis Knights on Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium.

Cameron Smith only allowed one run in 5.2 innings, but the AppleSox only collected four hits and were shut out for the second time this summer.

Smith kept the game scoreless until three straight batters reached with two outs in the fifth and an infield single gave Corvallis the game-winning run. The Knights added two more runs in seventh to pick up the series sweep.

The AppleSox have Monday off before taking on the Victoria HarbourCats on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the North Division Championship Series of the West Coast League Playoffs at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium at 6:35 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at AppleSox.com, at 610 N Mission St. #204 on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at the gate at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium on Tuesday night. It’s another $2 Off Tuesday, meaning that tickets are $2 off ($10 for premium, $5 for general admission) as are select concession items.

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Sox Drop Penultimate Regular Season Game

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CORVALLIS, OR - The AppleSox lost, 11-3, to the Corvallis Knights on Saturday night at Goss Stadium.

In a game that featured a combined seven errors, the Knights struck early and often and led 9-0 after three innings in part thanks to to a five-run third inning.

Torin Montgomery drove in the Sox’ first run of the game with an RBI single in the fourth and the AppleSox added two more runs in the ninth, but ultimately dropped their third straight game of the season.

The regular season wraps up on Sunday at 3 p.m. but, after an off-day on Monday, the Sox begin the 2019 postseason by hosting the Victoria HarbourCats in Game 1 of the North Division Championship Series at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium on Tuesday at 6:35.

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Sox Fall to Knights on Friday

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CORVALLIS, OR - The AppleSox lost to the Corvallis Knights, 6-0, on Friday night at Goss Stadium

Despite outhitting the Knights 6-5 and a 2-for-4 night from Torin Montgomery for his fourth multi-hit game in his sixth game in an AppleSox uniform, the Sox could not pick up the victory.

The AppleSox best chance to score cane in the third when Cody Simmons doubles and Tanners Smith walked to put runners at first and second with two outs. Jermaine Ducham followed with a single but Simmons was thrown out at home to end the frame.

The Knights responded with three runs on three hits in the bottom of he inning. They would also scores three more times in the fifth and all six of their runs came across with two outs.

Relievers Ryan Isler, Alex Jemal and Brett Gillis all tosses scoreless relief outings in their final respective tune-ups before the postseason.

The Sox look to even up the series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in their penultimate game of the 2019 regular season.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interview with pitching coach Tyler VonDracek.

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AppleSox Face Knights to Wrap Up Regular Season

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The Wenatchee AppleSox, winners of nine of their last 10 and the second-half North Division playoff berth, face the Corvallis Knights tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, for their final three games of the first half.

Peter Sanchez (0-0, 13.50 ERA) will get the start tonight against the Knights’ David Watson (4-1, 4.57 ERA) at 6:30. The Sox haven’t announced their starter for Saturday’s 7:05 game, but Eric Hill (0-1, 3.25 ERA) will start for Corvallis. Cameron Smith will make his AppleSox debut on Sunday against Cole Wilkinson, who will also make his Knights debut at 3:00.

The Sox are coming off taking two of three from the Ridgefield Raptors. The Sox won nine of the 10 games (league and non-league combined) on their homestand and just saw a 14-game win streak at home come to an end last night. Wednesday’s 5-0 win clinched a berth in the postseason.

Game 1 of the West Coast League North Division Championship Series against the Victoria HarbourCats will take place in Wenatchee on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Tickets for Game 1 can be purchased on AppleSox.com.

All three games against Corvallis can be heard live on Sunny FM in Wenatchee as well as other translators throughout Washington listed below.

93.9 FM in Wenatchee Valley
95.3 FM in Lake Chelan Valley
101.3 FM in Brewster/Bridgeport/Pateros
101.9 FM in Omak/Okanogan Valley
106.3 in Methow Valley

The game can also be heard online on the AppleSox website.

Win Streak Ends in Home Finale

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WENATCHEE, WA - For the first time since July 10, the AppleSox fell at home with a 16-3 loss to the Ridgefield Raptors on Thursday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Torin Montgomery and Hunter Montgomery both homered in the third inning to tie the game up 3-3, but the Raptors scored nine times in the top of the eighth and four more times in the ninth inning.

Seth Kuykendall tossed five innings in his final tuneup before the postseason He’ll start Game 2 of the North Division Championship Series of the West Coast League Playoffs against the Victoria HarbourCats on Aug. 14.

Game 1 of the postseason will take place in Wenatchee on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Tickets for Game 1 can be purchased on AppleSox.com.

Sox Clinch Playoff Berth

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox guaranteed a return to the postseason with a 5-0 win over the Ridgefield Raptors on Wednesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

The AppleSox will return to the postseason for the first time since 2013. Kody Darcy and Ryan Altenberger both homered to lead the Sox to victory.

Wenatchee picked up its first shutout in WCL play this season. Jake Saum (4-1) tossed a season-high eight innings and struck out eight.

The Sox struck first in the third inning when Hunter Montgomery plated Blake Klassen with an RBI single. Darcy and Altenberger opened up the fifth inning with back-to-back solo home runs to make it 3-0, AppleSox. With those two home runs, the Sox have now hit 34 home runs this summer to set a single-season home run record.

Jason Harayda doubled in a run and Ryan Altenberger hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth for two more insurance runs. Brett Gillis tossed a scoreless ninth inning to clinch the win.

The AppleSox have now won nine consecutive games in West Coast League play and have won 14 straight games at home in league and non-league play combined. They’ll look for their third consecutive sweep and sixth of the season on Thursday.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Saum and AppleSox head coach Kyle Krustangel below.

Sox Wallop Raptors For Eighth Straight Win

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox picked up their eighth straight win with a 16-2 win over the Ridgefield Raptors on Tuesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Gavin Gorrell (4-2) struck out a season-high seven hitters in five innings and the Sox scored six times in the sixth to pick up their 13th consecutive home victory.

Every hitter reached base at least once and the AppleSox strung together four multi-run innings. Blake Klassen reached base four times and drove in a run and Torin Montgomery hit a 2-RBI double in each of the first two innings. The AppleSox scored runs in all but three innings.

Montgomery doubled in two in the first inning and then again in the second, but only after Jermaine Ducham led off with a single and then scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Shortly after, Kody Darcy drove in a run with an RBI groundout as a part of a four-run inning.

The Raptors scored twice in the third, but stranded the bases loaded in it and the fourth innings. Klassen hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and the Sox got three more in the fifth when Jermaine Ducham drove in one with a single and Jason Harayda plated two with a single of his own.

The AppleSox sent 11 men to the plate in the sixth and scored six times. Each of the first seven hitters reached base before an out was recorded.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Harayda and head coach Kyle Krustangel below.

Red-Hot Sox Seek Playoff Berth, Host Raptors

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The AppleSox wrap up their home portion of the 2019 regular season this week with three games against the Ridgefield Raptors, all at 6:35 p.m., at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

With a sweep or three wins in their final six games, the Sox will clinch their first postseason berth since 2013. Two wins gives the Sox a strong chance at qualifying as well, but they will need some help.

There are also ways that the AppleSox can clinch a playoff berth with just one win or without any wins, but the simplest route is to win at least twice.

Learn more about the Sox’ clinching scenarios and get a full preview of the series in the series notes below.

Series Notes

Sox Sweep Away Pippins

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox defeated the Yakima Valley Pippins, 8-4, to pick up their 12th straight home win and fifth sweep of the season on Sunday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Torin Montgomery and Kody Darcy both homered to give the Sox 32 home runs this summer. That ties the team’s single-season home-run record previously set in 2017.

The AppleSox have won eight consecutive games, seven straight just in West Coast League play. Wenatchee is tied for first place in the North Division with Victoria with six games remaining in the regular season. If the Sox win the division outright, tie with Victoria for first or finish second behind Victoria but have the second-best overall record in the North, then they will qualify for the 2019 West Coast League Playoffs.

The Pippins scored in the first inning for the first time in the series with back-to-back one-out base-hits. Though the AppleSox didn’t score in the bottom of the first, they struck for four runs in the bottom of the second. Hunter Montgomery and Torin Montgomery opened with a walk and a single, respectively, then on scored on consecutive RBI singles by Kody Darcy and Brett Gillis. Two batters later, Kodie Kolden singled in Darcy and Gillis with an RBI single of his own.

Wenatchee stretched the score to 6-1 when Torin Montgomery blasted a two-run homer 360 feet in the third inning. The long ball marked his first in an AppleSox uniform in his second game with the team.

Yakima Valley scored three times in the fifth to cut the deficit to two and had a chance to tie or take the lead in the sixth after loading up the bases. Although they did so with no outs, the Pippins could not score after the Sox turned a double play at the plate and first and then induced a popout to center to end the inning.

The Sox added two more runs in the sixth on a leadoff home run by Darcy and then Blake Klassen hit an RBI single to plate the final run of the evening.

After an off day on Monday, the Sox host the Ridgefield Raptors at 6:35 on Tuesday night. That will be the first game of the final three-game home series of the summer for the AppleSox.

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AppleSox Win Sixth Straight

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox picked up their sixth straight win with a 10-6 win over the Yakima Valley Pippins on Saturday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Dalton Harum drove in three runs and Blake Klassen reached base five times to buoy the Sox to victory. The AppleSox scored five runs in their final two innings at-bat all with two outs.

Wenatchee has now won 11 consecutive games at home after Saturday’s victory. The nine consecutive wins at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium is now tied for an AppleSox record, first set in 2013.

The AppleSox took a 1-0 lead after a sacrifice fly from Harum in the first inning but trailed 3-1 after two innings after the Pippins scored three times on two AppleSox errors in the top of the second.

In the bottom of the third, Harum launched his fourth home run of the season to cut the deficit to one before the Sox took the lead in the fifth. After Kodie Kolden singled and Connor Kiffer doubled to begin the inning, Klassen drove both in with a double and then scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Torin Montgomery to make it 5-3, AppleSox.

The Pippins got a run back in the top of the sixth, but the Sox responded with a two-spot in the seventh on a two-out, two-run double by Cody Simmons. The next inning, Klassen doubled with two outs and scored on a triple by Harum. Hunter Montgomery reached on an error to score Harum and then back-to-back singles by Torin Montgomery and Kody Darcy scored another run and gave the AppleSox a 10-4 lead.

Though the Pippins got two runs in the ninth, the AppleSox still picked up the win and remained tied for first place after Victoria defeated Bellingham. With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Sox will look for their fifth sweep of the season on Sunday at 5:35.

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Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interview with Harum and AppleSox assistant coach Cash Ulirch.

AppleSox Walk Off Again to Defeat Pippins

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox walked-off the Yakima Valley Pippins with a 4-3 10-inning victory on Friday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Hunter Montgomery walked with the bases loaded and one out to give the Sox their fifth consecutive win, sixth including non-league games. Wenatchee has now won 10 consecutive home games.

After scoring first, the Sox then trailed by two runs entering the sixth inning and then scored once in it and again in the seventh. They ultimately picked up their third walk-off win of the season and second this week.

Ryan Isler tossed four shutout inning of relief. Even though he didn’t pick up the win, Isler recorded 10 consecutive outs before allowing a base hit. He struck out two in his longest appearance of the summer.

Blake Klassen singled and walked twice apiece and Johnny Sage reached base three times after receiving the Tommy Watanabe Award before the game.

The Sox got on the board first when Trent Sellers singled, stole second and scored from second on a wild pitch in the first inning. The Pippins knotted it up with a run in the fourth and took a two-run lead after a bases-loaded walk and single in the fifth.

Back-to-back AppleSox single-run innings tied the game up. Sage walked and eventually scored on a balk in the sixth. Kody Darcy and Brett Gillis both singled with one out in the seventh and Darcy scored on a sacrifice fly by Kodie Kolden.

The AppleSox put the winning run in scoring position but couldn’t strike in the ninth. In the 10th, Sellers walked, Sage singled and then, with one out, Klassen was intentionally walked. Montgomery walked on five pitches to plate the winning run.

Cameron Sommer (2-1) tossed a scoreless top of the 10th to pick up the win.

Thanks to the Bellingham Bells’ 12-6 win over the Victoria HarbourCats, the AppleSox are again tied with the HarbourCats for first place. If the Sox win the second half North Division title for tie for first, they make the postseason. If they finish second behind Victoria, then the AppleSox must have the next best overall record, first half and second half included, in the North Division. The Sox are currently 1.5 games ahead of Bellingham for the second best overall record in the North. For full playoff playoff procedures, visit the West Coast League website.

Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Isler, Sage and head coach Kyle Krustangel.

Sage Wins Sox' Tommy Watanabe Award

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Prior to the AppleSox’ game against the Yakima Valley Pippins, AppleSox owner Jose Oglesby and head coach Kyle Krustangel presented the 2019 Tommy Watanabe Award to AppleSox outfielder Johnny Sage, an incoming senior at Purdue University.

Two years ago, AppleSox pitcher Tommy Watanabe passed away unexpectedly late in the season. Watanabe had already been sent back home, but his loss was devastating to AppleSox players, workers and fans.

Watanabe was a pitcher for the AppleSox, but he was also so much more than that. He was an energetic young man who dreamed of playing for as long as he could. Tommy brought the type of energy and respect for the game that the AppleSox look for in every player that comes to Wenatchee.

Last season, the AppleSox created the Tommy Watanabe Award in remembrance of their former teammate. This award will be given at the end of every AppleSox season to a player who best exhibits Tommy’s spirit and his passion for AppleSox baseball.

“Tommy’s story represents what is pure about baseball and sport,” AppleSox owner Jose Oglesby said. “I wanted to recognize the current players that embody the spirit of community at the same time. Putting the two together lets us tie our present with our past.”

Sage comes to the ballpark with a smile on his face every day. He is always willing to give his time to chat with others, be they fans or opposing players. On the field, Sage invigorates the AppleSox whether it’s clubbing a double to right-center or diving for a fly ball in left field. He also keeps things light by imitating the opposing third-base coach and debating baseball skills with teammates. His head coach Kyle Krustangel affectionately calls him ‘Johnny AppleSox’ because of his hustle and performance.

“Johnny is a great example of the type of fine young men that we try to bring to Wenatchee,” AppleSox general manager Ken Osborne said. “We want these ballplayers to be excellent both on-and-off the field and Johnny is a great example of someone who make everyone around him feel great after speaking to him.”

On the field, Sage is equally impressive. Last year, he tied for the most walks (28), recorded the third-best on-base percentage (.442) and had the seventh-best batting average (.326) in the West Coast League. This summer, he is hitting .322/.424/.420 with 13 stolen bases and 26 RBI, both team-bests, entering tonight’s game.

Sage is the second winner of the Tommy Watanabe Award after Jacob Prater won the inaugural award a year ago. Sage played his final game with the AppleSox tonight before leaving to go back to school.

AppleSox Face Pippins This Weekend

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The AppleSox continue their quest for a postseason berth tonight this weekend against the Yakima Valley Pippins at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. Tonight and tomorrow’s games begin at 6:35 and Sunday’s starts at 5:35.

All three games can be heard live on Sunny FM in Wenatchee as well as other translators throughout Washington listed below.

93.9 FM in Wenatchee Valley
95.3 FM in Lake Chelan Valley
101.3 FM in Brewster/Bridgeport/Pateros
101.9 FM in Omak/Okanogan Valley
106.3 in Methow Valley

The game can also be heard online on the AppleSox website.

Click on the series notes below to get a full preview of the series.

Series Notes

McKenzie Goes From Walk-On to WCL All-Star

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Cole McKenzie almost gave up on baseball.

Before he was a West Coast League All-Star with the Wenatchee AppleSox and before he earned Third-Team All-Big Ten with Purdue, McKenzie nearly quit the game he loved.

In fact, he was mere days away from giving up on his dream of playing college baseball.

“All my friends were going to Montana State Billings,” McKenzie said, “and I was close to just going there as a student or to the University of Montana.”

McKenzie had put together an impressive baseball career, but had no scholarship offers to be a student-athlete at a Division-I program. He played in the Little League World Series for Montana’s team and went as far as the U.S. Championship round in 2011. McKenzie also earned two all-conference and one all-state honors while with the Billings Royals in American Legion Baseball.

However, the prospect of continuing his pro career would be arduous. That didn’t rattle McKenzie.

He was willing to walk on somewhere but was stuck between two schools.

“One night I was just sitting at the dinner table with my parents seeing if I was even going to play baseball in college,” McKenzie said, “because it was getting to the point that it had to be a yes to either Whitworth or Yakima.”

McKenzie didn’t get any scholarship money because of how late in the process he committed. He found Yakima through the help of Baseball Northwest, a showcase event for high school baseball prospects.

Yakima Valley Yaks head coach Kyle Krustangel spotted McKenzie in 2016 and wanted him to play in “the Palm Springs of Washington.” So, McKenzie walked on with the Yaks shortly before the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

“Going into it I was super nervous because it was college ball and I didn’t know what to expect,” McKenzie said. “With Yakima winning the NWAC the year before I knew it was going to be big shoes to fill.”

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Even though he felt the pressure, McKenzie lived up to and exceeded every expectation that the coaching staff had for him. McKenzie slashed .396/.530/.532 with 21 stolen bases to lead the Yaks in all four categories in 2017.

After McKenzie’s impressive 2017 season with the Yaks, he joined the AppleSox in Krustangel’s first season coaching the team and hit .193 in 30 games. Though he struggled, he bounced back with a phenomenal spring for Yakima Valley. The sophomore slashed .358/.484/.556 and though he didn’t lead his team in any of those categories on a stacked Yaks team, he earned high praise form his head coach.

“Cole probably put together the best two years by any Yaks or NWAC player ever,” Krustangel said. “The numbers that he put up were phenomenoal but that’s he an even better person is remarkable. He is the type of guy that we try to get with this program, both with the Yaks and the AppleSox.”

For his part, McKenzie loved his time in Yakima playing for Krustangel. Not only did he put up incredible stats, he made lasting friendships. In 2018, he played with Johnny Sage, who he met in 2016 at the Baseball Northwest showcase.

“That guy will be my best friend forever,” McKenzie said. “He’s incredible. He’s supportive and always there for me and I’m always there for him. I kind of convinced him to come to Yakima even though he had better offers but I think he wanted to go there and have a blast with me.“

McKenzie and Sage both left for Purdue following the 2018 NWAC season. Their friendship continued on the field in the summer as they played for the AppleSox in both 2018 and 2019 (McKenzie played two non-league games for the Sox last summer). They will return to Purdue this fall getting ready to be teammates together for parts of five consecutive seasons of summer and school ball.

“The guy’s a great ballplayer but really just a genuine guy too, one of my best friends,” Sage said. “I haven’t played with that pure of a hitter in a long, long time. Off the field, the guy handles his business very well. He’s going to play baseball for a long time.”

McKenzie was ecstatic when he got the call to play at Purdue during his second season with Yakima. Not only would he get to play with Sage again, but he’d also get to fulfill his dream of playing Division-I baseball.

“ A couple schools were talking to me,” McKenzie said. “I didn’t have a school that I really wanted to go to. One day Purdue called while I was on the bus and I was like ‘holy cow guys, Purdue called me,’ like, no way! Big 10 baseball, it’s power five. That’s the dream, that’s what I wanted to do so I knew at the time that that’s where I wanted to go.”

Things didn’t start off swimmingly in the 2019 season for McKenzie. Through his first 32 games, McKenzie was hitting just .242 at the plate.

However, he turned it around. McKenzie reached base safely in each of his final 22 games and ended the season on a nine-game hitting streak. He recorded a season-best 11-game hitting streak from April 13-28, which one of his four different hitting streaks of at least six games. He ended up leading Purdue with a .317 AVG, .407 OBP, 25 walks, 65 hits and 205 AB.

AppleSox 2019 All-Stars (L to R) Sam Wyatt, Ryan Altenberger, Cole McKenzie and Jake Saum.

AppleSox 2019 All-Stars (L to R) Sam Wyatt, Ryan Altenberger, Cole McKenzie and Jake Saum.

That continued in the summer season when McKenzie joined the AppleSox. He immediately stepped in as the AppleSox centerfielder and batted third in all 29 games that he played in. Though he’s been sidelined with a sprained left wrist that left him out of action since July 12, McKenzie’s .370/.466/.481 slash line still leads the AppleSox. His current 18-game on-base streak is the fifth-longest in the West Coast League this summer. McKenzie has recorded 12 multi-hit games, including four three-hit games. He has recorded three different hitting streak hits of at least five games.

“I was struggling for a while at Purdue,” McKenzie said, “but I turned it around and kept riding that into summer ball. It’s turned out pretty well for me so far.”

After this season, McKenzie will go back to Purdue and pursue another dream: playing professional baseball. Though he was Third-Team All-Big Ten, the Boilermakers finished 20-34 and second-to-last in the Big Ten with a 7-16 record. If McKenzie can get off to a strong start and put together another impressive season, perhaps he can help the program and his own draft potential at the same time.

If professional baseball doesn’t work out, McKenzie has other plans. He’s willing to stay in school as a backup and/or after playing plan but make no mistake, McKenzie won’t give up on his dream to play in the majors until he’s told he can’t.

“It’s something I’m really working for,” McKenzie said, “but if not, physical therapy school will be there for me. Possibly at Purdue, I really like it there, but I might come back home, be closer to the family.”

Regardless of what he chooses to do, McKenzie has already overcome enough adversity to prove that if he says he wants to do something, he should be taken seriously.

Sox Shut Out CCL Showcase

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WENATCHEE, WA - Brett Garcia struck out 12 batters in five shutout innings and the AppleSox defeated the Cascade Collegiate League Showcase, 13-0, on Wednesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

Garcia, making his first start in league or non-league action, set the AppleSox’ 2019 record for most strikeouts in a start. He struck out at least two in every inning and struck out the side in the first and fourth innings.

Peter Sanchez also struck out two in two scoreless innings and Ryan Altenberger and Kodie Kolden both tossed scoreless frames with Altenberger striking out one and Kolden punching out the side in the ninth.

Offensively, the Sox only lead 1-0 after three innings, but scored their 12 other runs in the fourth through seventh innings. The AppleSox’ best inning was a six-run seventh inning.

The Sox resume West Coast League play on Friday when they host the Yakima Valley Pippins at 6:35

Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Garcia and AppleSox head coach Kyle Krustangel.