YAKIMA, Wash. - The Everett AquaSox had their running shoes on Monday night in an 8-4 victory over Yakima – their first this season in nine tries.
Everett players stole five bases in six attempts, beat out infield singles and took extra bases when warranted, leading Manager Pedro Grifol to praise the virtues of his players’ fundamentals.
“We couldn’t have played better fundamentally,” Grifol said. “We’ve played Yakima tough all year. We’ve been in every game except a few of them all year.
“They got the big plays and the key hits against us at the right times, and tonight we came up with our own.”
They didn’t waste any time either in showing they wanted to avoid losing six of their last seven games.
DH Jorge Maduro, back down from Tacoma, opened the second inning with a single and scored on a wild pitch – the first of three for Yakima starter Chad Scarbery (6-5).
1B Bryan LaHair followed with a single scoring C Justin Ruchti.
After Oswaldo Navarro plated another run with an RBI groundout, the problems continued for Scarbery as his second wild pitch of the inning moved LaHair to third where he scored as sunlight blocked out the first baseman’s view of Scarbery’s pickoff attempt of RF Josh Womack.
The AquaSox pinned another run on Scarbery in the third on LF Jeremy Dutton’s double down the first-base line, another wild pitch and a screaming shot over the short-stop’s head from Maduro made the score 5-1.
Everett starter Thomas Oldham (4-3), on the other hand, cruised through the league’s second-ranked offense, giving up two runs and two hits in 5.2 innings.
“He’s been solid all year long,” Grifol said. “He’s a great competitor, and he’s always kept us in games.”
The sixth inning opened up threateningly with Josh Ellison dropping a fly ball in right field allowing Bears 1B Jamie D’Antona to reach second base.
Grifol quickly visited the mound to calm Oldham down.
“He competes for every out, and he gets fired up out there,” Grifol said. “I needed to remind him that run wasn’t going to beat us and just give him a breather to collect himself.”
Grifol’s words of wisdom paid off as D’Antona remained stranded at second base.
After Samuel Bradford Jr. moved into rightfield, with Ellison moving to left, to begin the seventh, Bears 2B Steve Garrabrants drove a ball to deep right over Bradford’s head. However, Bradford caught up with the ball only to have it bounce off his glove for a double much disputed in both clubhouses.
The official scorer originally ruled it an error before the Bears convinced him by the end of the game to award Garrabrants with a double.
“It wasn’t a diving play,” Grifol said. “He lost it. He should have made the play.”
DH Todd Buchanan advanced to third on the double and went on to score on a grounder for the only run in an otherwise sparkling relief performance by right-hander Juan Ovalles.
“Our guy makes that play day in and day out,” Grifol said. “Ovalles shouldn’t be charged with that run.”
Ovalles stranded Garrabrants on third base after striking out LF Alex Frazier – one of his four punch outs in 2.1 innings.
With the score 5-3, Bradford atoned by erasing the need for a closer with a three-run homer into the netting over the scoreboard in rightfield, his fourth on the season.
The Northwest League saves leader entered the game anyway in the ninth, with Brandon Moorhead pitching the final frame and giving up three hits and his first earned run in 13 road games.
Moorhead had pitched only two innings in the AquaSox’ previous 10 games.
The AquaSox finished the game with 12 hits, including three hits from Maduro, who didn’t have any in 18 at-bats with Tacoma, and two each from 2B Nick Orlandos and LaHair.
Everett improved to 26-34 and gained ground on third-place Vancouver in the West Division, while Yakima fell to 36-24 and lost a game to first-place Spokane in the East Division.
Notes: The AquaSox wrap up the season series against Yakima at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Yakima County Stadium with LH Sam Hays (1-1, 4.82) starting, and RH Felix Hernandez (7-2, 1.80) in line to relieve. Yakima counters with RH Chris Kinsey (2-1, 2.22).
James is a Central Washington University student interning for InsidethePark.com this summer. He welcomes your feedback, hints, tips or other observations at firstname.lastname@example.org. James recently used his intern status to get to see Everett AquaSox games for free and indulge on $0.25 hot dogs at Yakima County Stadium.