SILVERDALE, Wash. – The Wenatchee AppleSox (20-23, 17-22) won their second road series of the season, with a 4-3 victory over the Kitsap BlueJackets (14-26, 14-25), Thursday night at Gene Lobe Field on the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
A strong pitching battle started the rubber match of the three game set. Hunter Wells (6-1), of Wenatchee, and Nate Simmons (1-4), of Kitsap, each held the opposition hitless through the first three innings of play.
Wenatchee opened the night’s scoring in the fourth inning on a two-out RBI single for Sheldon Liikala, up the middle of the infield. The hit scored Jake Hirabayashi, who was aboard on a single to start off the frame.
Kitsap answered in the bottom half when Kyle Nobach came to score in an inning that developed almost identically to the AppleSox top half. Brett Bautista drove Nobach in from third on a two-out RBI single to right field to even the score at one.
Wells silenced the BlueJackets through the next two innings, until he got into a troublesome spot in the seventh. Three singles had the bases loaded for Kitsap with two outs, however, Wells worked a strikeout of Nobach to end the inning and keep the score tied at one.
Simmons also tossed a good game, but was harmed by three Kitsap errors, including one of his own in the eighth inning. The AppleSox used an error on Ryan Atkinson to get aboard to open the inning, and Keston Hiura singled to extend his season-high hitting streak to 10 games.
With first and second and nobody out, Evan Douglas laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt on the third base line to advance both runners.
Sheldon Liikala then surprised the BlueJackets by laying down a push bunt to the right side of the infield that was overrun by Simmons on the first base line. Liikala’s bunt drove in a run, and then Simmons looked to have Hiura caught in a rundown between third and home after Hiura took a wide turn. A high throw from Simmons up the third base line, resulted in Hiura coming to score, and the AppleSox led 3-1, with Liikala advancing to second on the play.
A single for Kyle Vanderkin set up a sacrifice bunt for Nick Nyquist on a squeeze play that brought Liikala home to score from third, and the AppleSox claimed a 4-1 advantage to the bottom of the eighth.
Tony Contonio took over in the bottom half, but allowed two runs in two thirds of an inning, forcing Sean Sparling into the game to try to get a four-out save for Wenatchee.
With runners at first and third, a passed ball got by the right side of Ryan Crowe, who recovered in time to throw home to Sparling, covering on a breaking runner from third base. The tag ended the eighth inning in unconventional fashion.
In the ninth inning, he retired the BlueJackets in order and picked up his second save of the season, while working a strikeout swinging to open the inning, and a strikeout looking to end the night.
With the win, Wells is now tied for the league lead in wins with Patrick McGuff at six. He, McGuff and Darrion Simons, of Yakima Valley, all each have 45 striekouts, tied for the league lead.
The AppleSox are back home, Friday, to take on the Yakima Valley Pippins at Paul Thomas Sr. Field. Gates open at 6 p.m., with first pitch following at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the box office when gates open, or online at www.applesox.com/tickets.
WP: Hunter Wells (6-1)
LP: Nate Simmons (1-4)
S: Sean Sparling (2)