WALLA WALLA – The Wenatchee AppleSox (18-33, 8-16 second half), nearly took every last hope from the Walla Walla Sweets (28-23, 13-11) late-season playoff push, but the Sweets hung on to a small lead and expanded it late for a 7-3 victory at Borleske Stadium, Thursday night.
Wenatchee’s final road game of 2016 was off to a less-than-optimal start when Willie MacIver connected on his third double of the last two night for a first-inning 1-0 lead.
The Sweets added two more off of AppleSox starter Ross Clevenger (1-4), in the third inning. With two runners aboard and no outs, an RBI single and double play fielder’s choice RBI, made it 3-0 Sweets.
A solo home run in the fifth got the large Walla Walla crowd excited. Hit by Jordan Myrow, it was his first of the season and the first off of Clevenger all year. It gave Walla Walla a 4-0 lead.
After getting through the start from WCL strikeout leader Chris Murphy, Wenatchee was finally able to generate some offense. Murphy worked five frames, surrendering only three hits, while striking out nine batters.
The AppleSox put together a comeback bid in the seventh inning against Nick Scheidler. Otis Statum walked and Haydan Hastings and Matt Fraizer singled to load the bases with no outs. A Ryan Kreidler sacrifice fly to center, and Evan Douglas 2-RBI single got the Sox within one run at 4-3.
Aj Carkner and Grant Ford combined to get the final outs of the inning, and Wenatchee left the bases loaded on a strikeout.
Walla Walla struggled against Taylor Borchers for two innings, who was first in relief of a five-inning Clevenger start. Borchers retired six straight, before the Sweets got three insurance runs in the eighth inning on a Nick Vigo single, MacIver fourth double of the series and a Nick Nyquist fielder’s choice.
Wenatchee was shut down, down the stretch, by Kyle Narahara who tied up the saves race in the WCL, posting his tenth. Narahara retired the games final five batters.
With the win, Walla Walla stayed alive in the WCL Playoff race, while Yakima Valley clinched the second South spot via a Gresham loss. The Sweets need the AppleSox help over the weekend, having to sweep Kelowna and have the Bellingham Bells lose all three games at Wenatchee.
Game one of the AppleSox series with the Bells, and the final home set of 2016 starts Friday night at 7:05 p.m., at Paul Thomas Sr. Field.