WCCBL Championship Series pits Corvallis vs. Wenatchee

The champions of the East and West, the Wenatchee AppleSox (23-19) and Corvallis Knights (31-11), earned spots in the 2008 WCCBL Championship Series. The best-of-three series gets started tonight in Wenatchee. The series will then shift to Goss Stadium in Corvallis for game two on August 18 and game three on August 19 (if necessary). Corvallis earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs as the Knights posted the league’s top record and set a new WCCBL single-season record for wins with 31.

Wenatchee has appeared in 3 of 4 WCCBL Championship Series. Corvallis played in last summer’s WCCBL Championship Series, losing to Moses Lake. The AppleSox won WCCBL titles in 2005 and 2006. The Knights and AppleSox are one and two in total WCCBL wins over the league’s four years of summer collegiate baseball. The Knights’ four-year regular season record is 110-52 while the Sox are 102-59. This is the first meeting between the two teams in the WCCBL postseason.

How They Got Here. Wenatchee swept Kelowna in the East Divisional Series. The AppleSox were led by team leader Hawkins Gebbers of Biola. Gebbers went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI in the Sox series clinching win. Right-hander Cody Fassold of Lower Columbia College won game two and struck out 13 batters. Chad Smith, a frosh-to be at USC, recorded a save and utility man Gino Aielli of UCLA homered in game one. The Knights dropped game one of the West Divisional Series, but rallied with two wins at home beating the Bend Elks 4-1 and 4-3 to advance to the WCCBL Championship Series. Corvallis rode the arms of starters Jared Eskew of Cal Poly (6 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts) and Ryan Platt of UC Riverside (7 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts). Eskew earned a win in game one and Platt in game two. WCCBL saves leader Taylor Starr of Oregon State closed out the series throwing a perfect ninth to register his 9th save of the season.

Home Sweet Home. Both teams played very well at home with Corvallis going 17-4 at Goss and Wenatchee 16-5 at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. The Knights average attendance was 659 per game while Wenatchee drew 39,513 fans for the season.

Regular Season Series. Corvallis swept Wenatchee at Goss Stadium July 25-27. Last week, Wenatchee took two of three from the Knights at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium. Both Sox wins featured complete game starts by Jeremy Stumetz of Gonzaga and Cody Fassold of Lower Columba College.

All-Time Series. Wenatchee leads the all-time series between the Sox and Knights 20-16.

Pitching and Defense. Corvallis and Wenatchee win baseball games with pitching and defense. The Knights finished the season with the league’s highest team fielding percentage at .974 and lowest team ERA at 2.23. The Knights’ pitching staff also led the league in fewest earned runs allowed with 94, fewest hits allowed with 276, most innings pitched with 380 and most saves with 13. The staff also led the league in strikeouts with 380. The Sox posted the league’s second lowest ERA at 3.56.

Awards. Jared Eskew of Cal Poly captured the league’s ERA title. The southpaw’s 1.32 was the lowest in the WCCBL. The third, fourth and fifth lowest ERAs in the league were posted by Knights’ pitchers Josh Osich (1.54) of OSU, Jon Berger (1.74) of San Diego State and Eddie Orozco (1.75) of UC Riverside. Wenatchee’s Stephen Yarrow of University of San Francisco led the league in triples with 3.

Coach Knaggs. Sox head coach Ed Knaggs is the most tenured skipper in the league. Brooke Knight of Corvallis is wrapping his rookie season as the Knights’ field manager.

Lost. Corvallis lost outfielder Logan Lotti, a junior-to be at Oregon State, to injury on a play at the plate at Wenatchee. Lotti underwent surgery on his ankle this past Tuesday. Lotti led the Knights in hitting (.353), doubles (12), homeruns (4) and RBI (24). The Knights also lost starter Eddie Orozco of UC Riverside to a family commitment.

Players to Watch. Corvallis closer Taylor Starr of Oregon State (2.66, 8 svs), starting pitcher Josh Osich of Oregon State (4-0, 1.54), starting pitcher Jared Eskew of Cal Poly (3-0, 1.32) and catcher Alex Burg of Washington State (.512 SBA%). Wenatchee closer Chad Smith of USC (3.96, 2 svs), outfielder Jimmy Patterson of Central Arizona (.258, 2 HR, 21 RBI), starting pitcher Steve Ames of Columbia Basin College (6-2, 3.24) and infielder Hawkins Gebbers of Biola (.327, 3 HR, 21 RBI).

Probable Starters:

Saturday, August 16 – Corvallis: Jon Berger of San Diego State (4-0, 1.74). Wenatchee: Steve Ames of Columbia Basin College (6-2, 3.24).

Monday, August 18 – Wenatchee: Jeremy Stumetz of Gonzaga (2-2, 3.00). Corvallis: Josh Osich of Oregon State (4-0, 1.54).

Tuesday, August 19 (if necessary) – Wenatchee: Cody Fassold of Lower Columbia College (3-0, 2.43). Corvallis: Jared Eskew of Cal Poly (3-0, 1.32).

Notes:

* The AppleSox were established in 2000 and the Knights in 1990.
* Wenatchee has never sat out the (WCCBL) postseason.
* Wenatchee knocked the Knights out of the playoffs on the final Sunday of the 2006 regular season as current St. Louis Cardinals prospect Clayton Mortensen (Memphis Redbirds) and 2007 Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year Tommy Milone (Hagerstown Suns, Washington Nationals affiliate) tossed complete game gems to earn the Sox a playoff spot and bounce the Knights with a doubleheader sweep at Mt. Hood CC.
* The Knights won the 2004 NBC World Series.
* Alums Jason Hammel (AppleSox) of Tampa Bay and Chris Stewart (Knights) of the New York Yankees have appeared this summer in the Major Leagues.