Attitude, confidence fuel Sox comebacks
Wenatchee has built reputation for late-game heroics
Saturday, June 30, 2012View full version
WENATCHEE — On an unseasonably cool evening in early June, the Wenatchee AppleSox were down to their final strike.
In the opening encounter of a three-game series against longtime rival Corvallis, the Sox found themselves down two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and Bryce Jackson was in an 0-2 count against Knights reliever Blake Burrell.
There, with the Sox’ backs firmly against the wall, was the starting point for one of the wildest months in the team’s 13-year history.
Jackson eventually worked a walk, and three batters later the team scored three runs to defeat the Knights 7-6.
It was the first of seven games in the month of June where the AppleSox either broke a tie or took the lead in the eighth or ninth inning.
Wenatchee went 7-0 in those games and is 18-3 overall, in command of the West Coast League’s East Division.
It’s happened four times in the last week alone, twice in a home series with Klamath Falls, and twice on the road at Kitsap.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this before,” said Jackson, who played a role in three of the seven comebacks, twice as the winning pitcher out of the bullpen and as a hitter against Corvallis.
“We all trust each other to get runs across, no matter what the situation is.”
Normally it takes months of playing together for a team to form the cohesion it takes to pull off these kind of miracles.
It’s taken the Sox a month.
What makes it more impressive is some of the lineup components in the comebacks have only been with the team for five or six games.
“Everyone that comes in here becomes part of the family,” said Jackson, who has been with the team for nearly the entire season. “We hang out a lot off the field and get to know each other, so that helps with the confidence.”
From a pitching standpoint, Jackson said that even if the team is behind when he comes into the game in the middle to late innings, the offense’s penchant for the dramatic affects his approach.
“If we can come in there and throw up zeroes, it can keep us in the game,” he said. “We can always give the offense a chance.”
Steve Ventimilia, the Sox’ leadoff hitter from Day 1, said that the swagger and coolness that this year’s team so clearly possesses draw their origin from teams past.
“I have six teammates at Hawaii that all played here, and they told me about that tradition,” Ventimilia said. “I knew that the team’s players usually come from the same schools, and we have complete confidence in each other that we’re going to do it. There’s just a winning culture here.”
Ventimilia said that first comeback against Corvallis was perhaps the unlikeliest of all, given the 0-2, two-out, ninth-inning situation.
He added that in some of the other late revivals, the team never should have been behind in the first place.
“I think it’s great that we’ve been able to do it but to be really honest, we’ve had mental lapses in some of those games, and we’ve been fortunate to step it up late,” he said. “We want to play that way for all nine innings.”
Now that’s a scary thought.