BOISE, Idaho – After dropping the first two games of the series with Boise to see their lead over Vancouver in the NWL North Division fall to just one game with three to play, the Everett AquaSox rebounded for an 8-7 win over the Hawks before 3,138 fans at Memorial Stadium Saturday. Lars Huijer gave the Frogs a much-needed quality start, tossing six shutout innings and the bullpen held on as the Hawks scored four runs in the ninth. The offense finally came through for Everett with 12 hits, led by Austin Wilson, who hit his first professional home run.
The game looked to be headed for blowout territory early as the ‘Sox grabbed the lead against Hawks starter Duane Underwood and Huijer mowed down the Boise hitters. Austin Wilson opened the scoring with a solo home run to center field, his first as a pro, to lead off the second inning. Then, with one out, Phillips Castillo doubled to left and came around to score on Michael Faulkner’s two-out single to center to put Everett up 2-0.
The Frogs tacked on runs against Underwood in the third and the fourth. DJ Peterson, who was 3-4 with a homer Friday, drew a one-out walk in the third and moved to second base on a wild pitch before scoring on another two-out hit, this one a single to right by Chantz Mack. Bryan Brito led off the fourth with a bunt single and advanced to third on a two-base throwing error by Underwood. A wild pitch with Faulkner at the plate brought Brito home to make it 4-0 ‘Sox.
Meanwhile, Huijer gave the AquaSox the shutdown outing they needed as they head toward the end of the first half. The Dutchman worked six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out eight. He walked none. Huijer earned his fifth win of the season, tied for the league lead. He finished the first half with a 5-1 record, 2.21 ERA, and 31 strikeouts.
Everett added a run in the seventh to make it 5-0 when Faulkner walked and scored on Peterson’s infield single before the Hawks began their comeback attempt. With Huijer out of the game, Boise struck for three runs in the home half of the seventh against Tom Burns. Four straight singles brought home two runs to cut the lead to three. With a couple men on and one out, Shawn Dunston singled to center, scoring David Bote to make the score 5-3. With the tying runs in scoring position, Aaron Brooks came on for Burns and struck out Daniel Lockhart and Yasiel Balaguert to end the inning.
The Frogs scored what proved to be the game-winning runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Wilson singled to lead off the eighth and stole second base. Mack moved Wilson to third with a bunt and Castillo scored him with a sac fly. In the ninth, Carlton Tanabe laced a two-run double to left that plated Justin Seager and Peterson to push the lead back to 8-3.
Brook’s ninth inning struggles continued as the Hawks scored four times and brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Brooks got the first two outs before things unraveled. Carlos Penalver singled and scored on a single by Dunston. Back-to-back singles by Lockhart and Balaguert scored Dunston and chased Brooks. Nick Valenza entered the game to face Jacob Rogers, and gave up a two-RBI single that trimmed the AquaSox’ lead to just one run at 8-7. With Rogers on first representing the tying run, Carl Brockmeyer stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter, but Valenza picked up the biggest out of the season so far, striking out Brockmeyer to end the game.
On a night when every ‘Sox hitter checked in with at least one hit, it was Wilson who impressed the most. Having struggled for most of his first professional season, Wilson is batting .400 in his last five games. He went 2-4 Saturday with a pair of runs scored. Mack and Seager each went 2-5. Peterson picked up his league-leading 28th RBI. Underwood (1-2) took the loss for Boise. He tossed 4.0 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits. He walked three and struck out one.
With the win, the AquaSox improved to 23-13 on the season, tied for the best record in the NWL. More importantly, the Frogs’ win, combined with Vancouver’s 2-1 loss to Eugene, puts Everett’s lead in the division at two games with just two more to play. A win tomorrow will clinch the first half title and a playoff spot for the AquaSox. The Hawks fell to 19-17. The ‘Sox and Boise play the fourth game of their five-game set Sunday before wrapping up the series Monday. First pitch is at 6:15 PM PST (7:15 PM local). Pat Dillion will call the game on 1380 AM KRKO. The AquaSox open the second half with a three-game series at home against the Tri-City Dust Devils beginning July 23. AquaSox 2013 season and individual game tickets are available now online at www.aquasox.com and by phone at 425-258-3673.