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.

AppleSox Team Autograph Party Takes Place at Pybus Sunday

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The AppleSox are hosting their annual Team Photo Autograph Party this Sunday at Pybus Public Market from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

This event is free for the public to attend and the posters are also free. Sox players and coaches will also be on hand to sign the photo and meet and greet fans. Fans will also have the opportunity to enter to win more free AppleSox prizes. The Sox will raffle off a 20th season cap, tickets to that night’s 5:35 game with Yakima Valley and a hat signed by Marco Gonzales.

Media members are also welcome to come and speak with coaches and players.

The event is sponsored by Parsons Photography, Sunny FM and Pybus Market.

AppleSox End July vs CCL Showcase

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For the second time this season, the AppleSox are hosting the Cascade Collegiate League Showcase at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. The Sox opened the season against the CCL and now close the month of July against them. Tonight’s game is sponsored by Washington Trust and tickets are still available for purchase.

The last time they visited Wenatchee, the CCL fell, 10-1. Johnny Sage hit a three-run homer as part of a five-run second inning back on June 3. Keegan Romig tossed five shutout innings on the mound that evening.

The AppleSox defeated the CCL Showcase, 10-1, earlier this season.

The AppleSox defeated the CCL Showcase, 10-1, earlier this season.

The AppleSox are fresh off sweeping the Portland Pickles on Monday to pick up their fourth consecutive victory. The Sox are tied for first in the West Coast League North Division with a 12-6 record. Tonight’s game is a non-league contest and dose not figure into West Coast League standings.

Tonight’s game 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.

Fans may notice that pocket schedules, magnetic schedules and tonight’s tickets indicate that the AppleSox are facing the River City Athletics tonight. That is no longer the case as River City cancelled that game in late May. Tickets for tonight’s game that state that the Sox face the River City Athletics will still be accepted for admission.

Sox Walk Off to Sweep Pickles

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WENATCHEE, WA - The AppleSox picked up the fourth series sweep of the season thanks to a 2-RBI single by Connor Kiffer to walk off the Portland Pickles, 7-6, on Monday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

With two outs and runners at second and third and the AppleSox trailing by one, Kiffer singled to right field to score Blake Klassen and Trent Sellers. The base-hit gave the Sox their second walk-off win of the season and their fourth consecutive victory.

The Sox were two outs from victory in the top of the ninth, but gave up a two-run homer and had to rally in the bottom of the inning. Klassen led off with a walk, Hunter Montgomery drew a one-out walk but was erased when Sellers reached on a fielder’s choice. Sellers took second base on defensive indifference a pitch before Kiffer drove in the tying and winning runs on a 2-2 pitch.

Johnny Sage reached base in all five plate appearances with a three-hit night and the Sox recorded a third consecutive 10-hit night en route to victory.

The AppleSox struck first and took a 3-0 lead into the fourth after a quick start. In the second inning, Kody Darcy led off with a single and then scored two batters later on a single by Sellers. Ryan Altenberger went deep to open the third inning for his fifth home run of the season and his second in as many days in the third inning against the Pickles. Sage followed with a single and scored two batters later on a single by Klassen.

The Pickles got on the board with a couple RBI singles with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to one. The AppleSox responded with two more in the sixth to regain the three-run lead. Sage put down a bunt single with two outs and moved into scoring position thanks to a throwing error. A passed ball and a wild pitch scored Sage. Dalton Harum and Klassen followed with walks and as both attempted a double steal, Harum came home on a throwing error.

Portland scored two more in the seventh, but could have had more. On the second of back-to-back singles with the bases loaded, the Pickles second a runner home from second, but Altenberger gunned him down at home plate from right field.

With the win, the AppleSox are all alone in first place in the North Division. The Sox don’t face any league opponents again until Friday when they open up a three-game series against the Yakima Valley Pippins. After an off day tomorrow, the AppleSox face the Cascade Collegiate League Showcase team on Wednesday at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. First pitch is at 6:35 and Peter Sanchez will start for Wenatchee.

Full Boxscore

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

Big Eighth Inning Propels Sox to Victory

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WENATCHEE, WA - In a game that featured six ties or lead changes, the AppleSox scored six runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Portland Pickles, 14-8, on Sunday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium.

For the second night in a row, the AppleSox and the Pickles engaged in a back-and-forth affair. The Sox picked up their third consecutive win and showed off their resiliency once again.

Johnny Sage drove in four runs with a three-hit night, Dalton Harum homered and doubled and Kodie Kolden reached base four times. Every AppleSox batter reached base at least once and scored at least one run.

Sage drove in the Sox first run to give them a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Kolden walked, went to second and then scored on Sage’s one-out single just three batters into the bottom of the first inning.

The Pickles used two home runs in the top of the third inning and scored three times to lead the AppleSox 3-1, but it would be short-lived. Kolden led off with a single and then scored on Ryan Altenberger’s fourth homer of the summer.

Neither team scored in the fourth, but the Pickles struck with another three-spot to take a 6-3 lead into the sixth inning. The AppleSox loaded up the bases and were danger of stranding them loaded until Sage cleared the bases with a double. A batter later, Harum launched his third home run of the season to put the Sox up 8-6.

Despite all of that, the Pickles refused to go down quietly. They scored twice in the top of the eighth to re-tie game, but failing to take the lead proved costly. The AppleSox sent 10 men to the plate and though the inning ended the same way it began, with Sage flying out, Wenatchee scored six runs on four hits before the inning was over. With one out, Wenatchee loaded up the bases and Kody Darcy singled in the game-winning run with a single to left before Justin Lutz plated two with a single to right. With the bases reloaded two batters later, Kolden cleared with a double to the left-field corner.

Alex Jemal struck out all three batters that he faced in the ninth to wrap up the victory and give the Sox their third consecutive victory and seventh series victory of the season. Thy’ll go for their fourth sweep of the summer tonight at 6:35.

Full Boxscore

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

Sox Take Down Pickles to Open Series

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WENATCHEE, WA - Playing at home for the first time in nearly two weeks, the AppleSox claimed a back-and-forth affair with a 6-3 win over the Portland Pickles.

Tied up 3-3 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the AppleSox scored three runs to pick up back-to-back victories.

Johnny Sage and Kody Darcy both recorded multi-hit games in the win. Brett Gillis got the final four outs to pick up his fourth save of the season.

The Pickles opened the scoring with an unearned run in the second and the Sox immediately responded with one of their own in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, Darcy reached on an infield error to tie the run.

An inning later, Wenatchee took its first of three different leads in the game. Connor Kiffer drew a leadoff walk and scored after back-to-back singles by Blake Klassen and Hunter Montgomery with two outs.

The Pickles wouldn’t wait long to tie it up again, scoring another unearned run in the top of the fourth.

The AppleSox retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Johnny Sage went to work. Sage led off with a single, then stole second and went to third on a throwing error. A couple pitches later, he scored on a passed ball.

Again, the Pickles had an answer, striking with a two-out RBI double in the top of the sixth. Then, the Sox put together the only multi-run half inning. With the bases loaded, Connor Kiffer singled to left to score the game-winning run then Sage singled in two more with a high chopper to the right side.

The Sox go for the series victory tonight at 5:35.

Full Boxscore

Listen to AppleSox broadcaster Joel Norman’s postgame interviews with Darcy and assistant coach Cash Ulrich.

Sox Back Home, Take On Pickles

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The Wenatchee AppleSox return home tonight for the first of 10 home games in 13 days. After not playing any home games from July 16-26, the Sox are back in Wenatchee for a lengthy stretch at home.

Tonight and Monday’s games against the Portland Pickles take place at 6:35 while tomorrow’s game on Washington Trust Night begins at 5:35. Tickets can be purchased on AppleSox.com.

All three games can be heard on the AppleSox Radio Network. Live stats are available on Pointstreak.

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

Series Notes

AppleSox Book On Sale Monday

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The 20th season in Wenatchee AppleSox history is a landmark year. The AppleSox have celebrated it thus far with a commemorative logo, special home jerseys and plenty of exciting giveaways.

Now, the AppleSox are further adding to the fanfare of the exciting season with a book release. One Inning At A Time: 20 Years of AppleSox Baseball will go on sale this Monday at the AppleSox souvenir stand.

AppleSox owner Jose Oglesby tasked team broadcaster and communications director Joel Norman with writing a book about the history of the AppleSox. One Inning At A Time is not a chronological history of the AppleSox, nor is it only about what happens about the team on the field. Instead, it is a look at the players and coaches in addition to the other casts of characters who have helped the AppleSox celebrate summer, one inning at a time for the last 20 years. It is intended to tell the team’s history through short stories.

A limited number of copies will go on sale on Monday at the ballpark. Gates open at 5:30 and tickets can be purchased here. If copies run out, a waiting list will be available for fans to put down their names and guarantee themselves a copy. If you would like to purchase a book but are unable to attend a game at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium, please email info@applesox.com or call 509-665-6900 and the AppleSox will work to ship you a copy.

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Four-Run Eighth Buoys Sox to Victory

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WALLA WALLA, WA - Trailing 3-1 entering the eighth inning, the AppleSox scored four times in the top of the inning to defeat the Walla Walla Sweets 5-3.

Hunter Montgomery came up with the bases loaded and tied the game up with a 2-RBI single to left field. A batter later, Kody Darcy gave the Sox a two-run lead with a 2-RBI single of his own.

It was a big night for Montgomery as he picked up three hits in four at-bats to record his sixth multi-hit game of the season.

Landon Schirer struck out three in a two-inning outing to record his sixth save of the season. Ryan Isler (1-1) allowed an unearned run in the eighth to pick up the win.

For the first time in the series, the Sox struck first when they scored a run in the second inning. Blake Klassen and Montgomery both singled before Darcy walked to load up the bases. Alex Jemal drew a walk with two outs to score Klassen. It was the first of all five runs to score with two outs.

The Sweets scored one run apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Though he picked up a no decision, Jake Saum allowed two of those runs but was otherwise spectacular. He punched out nine in six innings and allowed just four hits.

Full Boxscore

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

Sweets Stymie Sox Bats

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WALLA WALLA, WA - The Walla Walla Sweets held the AppleSox to just one hit to win, 3-2, on Thursday night at Borleske Stadium.

Sweets’ starting pitcher Ryan Johnston held the Sox hitless until Dalton Harum tripled with one out in the seventh inning. He would score a batter later on a groundout by Blake Klassen to end Johnston’s shutout bid.

The Sweets scored three times in the first inning and led for the rest of the game. Sox’ starter Seth Kuykendall (1-2) only allowed one earned run in six innings on the mound. Kuykendall’s strong start marked the eighth consecutive time that an AppleSox starter went at least five innings.

The Sox scored their second run in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Johnny Sage walked to drive in a run. However, the Sox would strand all three runners after Harum flew out to deep left to end the inning.

AppleSox All-Star Jake Saum gets the ball on Friday night as the Sox look to salvage the series at 7:05.

Full Boxscore

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

Team Chemistry Pivotal in Sox' Second-Half Success

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Team chemistry is difficult to define.

Because there’s no way to quantify how well a team gels with a statistic, it’s often cast aside by statisticians across baseball, far more than in any other sport.

However, one who follows the 2019 Wenatchee AppleSox can’t help but be impressed with this team’s chemistry. Whether it’s goofing off in pregame interviews or staying up all night on bus rides, this AppleSox team has gelled since Day 1.

“We’re on the road a lot together, so people need to get along,” pitcher Seth Kuykendall said. “We play games on the bus and I feel like that’s great for team chemistry. We’re very competitive. We’re not even happy losing games against each other.”

Make no mistake about it. The Sox are never happy with losing.

Don’t believe Kuykendall? Have a seat on the AppleSox team bus after Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Bellingham Bells. It’s the final game of a six-games-in-six-days road trip and the Sox had to get up early for the 1:05 p.m. matinee. Despite playing on a warm summer afternoon and sweating out a narrow victory, the Sox are still eager to pick up more wins on the bus.

It’s almost become a ritual on road games. It doesn’t matter if it’s a five-minute drive back to the team hotel or a five-hour journey back to Wenatchee. No matter the length of time on the bus, the AppleSox players must get multiple games of ‘Mafia’ in.

It’s a game that doesn’t require anything other than at least six players. There are no cards nor any props needed. Participants are separated into two teams, roles are assigned and essentially, chaos ensues.

It’s a popular game at the college baseball level that is all about deception. Players are assigned different positions and when a nonpartisan moderator announces who has ‘died,’ the players debate among themselves who is in the mafia and eventually are asked to vote on their suspicions. The game does not end until the members of the mafia are discovered.

Outfielder Johnny Sage is tied for the team lead in doubles (9) and stolen bases (11), but his most impressive talent might be his ability to trick teammates in ‘Mafia.’

Outfielder Johnny Sage is tied for the team lead in doubles (9) and stolen bases (11), but his most impressive talent might be his ability to trick teammates in ‘Mafia.’

The Sox take Mafia very seriously. Accusations and expletives are hurled left and right quicker than infielders tossing the ball back-and-forth trying to catch a base-runner in a rundown.

Some players fare better than others, but all asked agreed on who usually wins.

“Johnny Sage is probably the best,” pitcher Gavin Gorrell said. “He’s the guy who tries to be everyone’s friend and then is always in the mafia.”

Don’t let the AppleSox outfielder’s smile fool you; he is a regular backstabber in the game, according to his teammates and himself.

“The key,” Sage said, “is to manipulate everyone and try to be their friend and then stab them in the back. Friendships are definitely lost.

Summer ball is full of turnover, but the Sox don’t mind adding new players into the mix. Just don’t ask them to remember who the guy is.

“They still call me ‘new kid,’” infielder Connor Kiffer said on July 13, just two days after joining the team.

Indeed, whether it’s on the bus or in the dugout, players can be heard hollering the phrase. Gorrell said it typically takes a week for the guys to remember a ‘new kid’s’ actual name.

Mafia isn’t the only way for a newcomer to bond with AppleSox players. Take a look at the bases the next time a player drives in a run and/or collects an extra-base hit. You’ll notice the AppleSox player look toward the dugout and rapidly sway his hands back-and-forth with his palms facing his teammates.

Infielder Kody Darcy performs the Sox’ popular ‘All Hail the Queen’ celebration after hitting a double in a recent home game.

Infielder Kody Darcy performs the Sox’ popular ‘All Hail the Queen’ celebration after hitting a double in a recent home game.

Team’s celebrating big base-hits is nothing new across various levels of baseball, but every team has a different celebration for a different reason. The Sox’ inspiration came from their do-it-all All-Star, Ryan Altenberger.

“It came from a game that Alty created,” Gorrell said, “where the queen always wins when it’s played. Every time a queen is drawn he says ‘all hail the queen.‘“

Altenberger isn’t much of a talker, but he’s been a rallying point for this team. When he does speak, be it jokingly or seriously, his teammates notice. When Altenberger goes deep and flips his bat, his teammates notice.

Leadership isn’t always about giving a rah-rah speech. It can just be about keeping team energy loose and stepping up wherever needed. Altenberger has played every position on the field except for center field, pitcher, first base and catcher. Soon, he’ll get to scratch one of those positions off his checklist.

“I owe him an inning at some point,” head coach Kyle Krustangel said. “Before the end of this season, you’ll see Ryan on the mound for one inning. I’ve lost a couple of bets this summer and I always pay up.”

Perhaps the most hilarious of instances in which Krustangel lost a bet came back on June 20. Pitcher Owen Leonard bet Coach Krustangel that if the Sox took a 10-run lead over the Port Angeles, that he would be allowed to go out to the mound for visit.

Wenatchee led 12-0 after seven innings and after allowing two runs in the ninth, Leonard came out to chat with pitcher Sam Wyatt. However, Leonard wasn’t in jersey and a ballcap. Instead, he donned sunglasses, an AppleSox coaching staff jacket and a coach’s batting helmet. Leonard played the part perfectly, motioning to home plate umpire Dustin Catron that he was visiting Wyatt and was granted time. Both umpires didn’t catch on, but Wyatt and the AppleSox defenders and dugout couldn’t help but crack up.

AppleSox bat kid Wyatt DeLozier shows off his dance moves before the Sox faced the Bend Elks on July 12.

AppleSox bat kid Wyatt DeLozier shows off his dance moves before the Sox faced the Bend Elks on July 12.

The fun isn’t only for the players. The Sox also have fun with their bat kids, both at home and on the road. At Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium, players and coaches make sure to alert both bat kids stationed in the respective dugouts to remember to race each other for foul balls behind home plate. The time in between pitches is no longer boring as visiting teams and the AppleSox cheer for their bat kid to return to his/her dugout with a prize.

On the road, if the Sox don’t have a bat kid, pitcher Jake Saum has usually filled the bill as the ball retriever. Last week in Kelowna, Saum and a sweatshirt-wearing Falcons player delighted fans by sliding for foul balls behind the spacious home plate at Elks Stadium.

Whether it’s playing Mafia on the bus, hailing the queen or chasing after foul balls, the AppleSox have bonded and endeared themselves to fans both in Wenatchee. The summer season might only last two-and-a-half months, but the players are making the most of it both on and off the field.

Sweets Rally Late to Defeat AppleSox

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WALLA WALLA, WA - Despite leading 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the AppleSox gave up five runs in the next two innings and lost, 7-4, on Wednesday night at Borleske Stadium.

Ryan Long allowed two unearned runs in six innings but picked up the no-decision after the Sox couldn’t hang on to the lead.

Eight of nine AppleSox hitters reached base multiple times, but the Sox also left 10 men on base for the second time in their last three games, both losses.

After the Sweets scored twice in the second inning, both times with two outs, the Sox rallied for four runs in the fourth inning. Dalton Harum walked to open the inning and Blake Klassen singled to open the inning. Hunter Montgomery doubled in Harum and Kody Darcy singled in Klassen. Brett Gillis walked to load the bases and then Connor Kiffer hit a sacrifice fly to give the AppleSox a 3-2 lead. Three batters later and again with the bases loaded, Johnny Sage walked to bring in another run.

Long allowed just one hit in his final four innings, but the Sox’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead as it gave up four runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.

The Sox look to even up the series on Thursday as they send Seth Kuykendall to the rubber. First pitch is at 6:35.

Full Boxscore

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

Sox Back in Action, Take on Sweets

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The AppleSox begin their post-All-Star Break on the road against the Walla Walla Sweets tonight through Friday, with the first two games starting at 6:35 and the finale on Friday starting at 7:05.

Wenatchee resumes play just a half-a-game out of first place in the North division. If the AppleSox finish behind the HarbourCats to end the second half, then they must have the next-best overall record to earn a playoff spot.

All three games can be heard on the AppleSox Radio Network. Live stats are available on Pointstreak.

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

Series Notes

AppleSox Shine in 2019 All-Star Game

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

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

BEND, OR - Thanks to a nine-run second inning, the North defeated the South, 14-1, in the 2019 West Coast League All-Star Game last night at Vince Genna Stadium.

The Wenatchee AppleSox were well represented in Bend with Ryan Altenberger, Cole McKenzie, Jake Saum and Sam Wyatt all making the trip to southern Oregon.

Altenberger reached base three times and hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning. The incoming junior at Xavier, who hit two home runs in the home run derby the night before and was named the West Coast League’s Player of the Week for last week, hit the games only home run and led all players with 4 RBI while batting ninth and playing second base.

Altenberger came to the plate twice in the big second inning for the North. Fourteen hitters came to the plate with all nine hitters reaching base before an out was recorded. In the frame, Altenberger walked and singled in a run.

Wyatt and Saum each tossed singular innings of relief. Wyatt tossed a scoreless fourth inning and struck out one while Saum allowed one unearned run in the fifth.

McKenzie did not play due to a sprained left wrist.

The AppleSox begin their post-All-Star Break schedule tonight in Walla Walla with the first of three against the Sweets at 6:35.

Sox Enter All-Star Break With Win

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BELLINGHAM, WA - Kodie Kolden drove in the game-winning run in the seventh as the AppleSox defeated the Bellingham Bells, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon at Joe Martin Field.

With the game tied entering the seventh inning, Connor Kiffer hit a pinch-hit double and scored two batters later following a single up the middle by Kolden.

Gavin Gorrell (3-2) tossed 5.2 innings to pick up the victory. He allowed two unearned runs on three hits. Landon Schirer struck out two in a scoreless ninth to lock down his fifth save of the year.

For the first time in the series, the Sox opened up the scoring. Justin Lutz walked and Kolden doubled to put runners at second and third to lead off the inning. Ryan Altenberger grounded out to plate Lutz and then Johnny Sage singled in Kolden.

The Sox committed three errors in the fifth and sixth innings to plate to Bells runs, but then quickly retook the lead in the seventh. In the ninth, Altenberger hit a two-run homer with two outs on the 10th pitch of is at-bat.

Though Wenatchee dropped two-of-three over the weekend against the Bells, they did claim the season series, 4-2.

The Sox go in to the All-Star Break with an 8-4 record, good for second place in the North Division. Altenberger, Cole McKenzie, Jake Saum and Sam Wyatt will represent the AppleSox in Bend for the 2019 West Coast League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Altenberger will compete in Monday’s home run derby. Both events start at 6:30 and can be seen live on the Bend Elks Facebook page.

Box Score

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

Sox Late Rally Not Enough Against Bells

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BELLINGHAM, WA - The AppleSox scored twice in the ninth inning to cut the deficit in half, but ultimately dropped Saturday night’s game against the Bellingham Bells, 4-2, at Joe Martin Field.

Connor Kiffer hit a sacrifice fly and Kodie Kolden singled in a run as the Sox got on the board in the ninth inning, but they ultimately stranded the bases loaded to end the game.

The AppleSox could not overcome allowing three runs in the first inning and dropped the series to the Bells.

Jack Simpson tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth innings in his first AppleSox appearance.

Box Score

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

AppleSox Win Streak Ends on Friday Night

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BELLINGHAM, WA - For the first time in over a week, the AppleSox lost as they dropped the series opener to the Bellingham Bells, 7-5, on Friday night at Joe Martin Field.

The Sox’ seven-game winning streak, the longest of the season, came to an abrupt end after the Bells scored four times in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead. Wenatchee put two on in the ninth, but couldn’t plate either.

Seth Kuykendall struck out seven in six innings and allowed three runs, but only one was earned. Kodie Kolden and Hunter Montgomery both recorded multi-hit games.

After failing to score first in any of the three games against the AppleSox last weekend in Wenatchee, the Bells scored thanks to a double and error in the first inning. Two innings later, the Bells scored two more times and held a 3-0 lead going into the seventh inning.

Though the Sox had only collected two hits off Bells starter Nick Proctor through the first six innings, they loaded up the bases against the right-hander to open the seventh. After a pitching change, a wild pitch scored the Sox’ first run of the game and then Montgomery doubled in another to make it a 3-2 game. Dylan McPhillips doubled to right-center to score two more runs and give the AppleSox their first lead of the game. Kolden singled in the final run of the inning and the game for the Sox to give Wenatchee a 5-3 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Bells sent 10 men to the plate and, thanks to four walks drawn, took the lead against two different AppleSox relievers.

Jake Saum toes the rubber for the Sox on Saturday night looking to even the series up. First pitch is at 6:35.

Full Boxscore

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

AppleSox Look to Stay Hot, Face Bells

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The Wenatchee AppleSox, winners of a season-best seven consecutive games, wrap up their six-game road trip with three games in Bellingham this weekend.

The series begins tonight at 6:35, continues with a 6:35 game tomorrow and concludes on Sunday at 1:05. All three games will be broadcast live on the AppleSox Radio Network and live stats can be found on Pointstreak.

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

Series Notes

Sox Sweep Falcons, Win Seventh Straight

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KELOWNA, B.C. - The AppleSox continued to stay hot by defeating the Kelowna Falcons, 11-8, on Thursday night at Elks Stadium.

The Sox stretched their season-best winning streak to seven games and picked up their third sweep of the season. Henrik Reinertsen (3-2) allowed two runs in six innings to earn the win and Johnny Sage hit a three-run homer for the Sox.

In the first inning, Wenatchee sent each of its first four hitters to the basepaths and scored twice. Kodie Kolden singled and then Ryan Altenber and Sage drew back-to-back walks to laod up the bases. Kolden scored on a wild pitch and Dalton Harum was hit by a pitch to load up the bases again. Blake Klassen hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it 2-0, AppleSox.

The Falcons got a run back in the bottom of the first, but the Sox would take on seven runs over the next two innings, scoring all of them with two outs. In the second, Kolden singled and Altenberger walked before Sage hit his first home run of the season to dead center field. Harum walked and scored on a double to left-center by Klassen to give the Sox a 6-1 lead.

Three singles with two outs in the third inning gave the Sox another run, this time with Altenberger plating a run. Pinch hitter Kody Darcy plated two more with a double.

Wenatchee scored its final two runs in the fourth when Klassen reached on an errors and Dylan McPhillips doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Connor Kiffer and Justin Lutz to left field scored two more runs to push the score to 11-1, AppleSox.

The Falcons scored in the bottom of the fourth and again with five in the seventh, but got no closer.

The AppleSox continue their six-game road trip with three games in Bellingham. Last weekend, the Sox swept the Bells in Wenatchee. First pitch on Friday night at 6:35.

Full Boxscore

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