By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Sunday afternoon’s game between the Everett AquaSox and Vancouver Canadians was a bit like a Cold War era air raid drill.
It was a case of, “duck and cover.”
When the sirens quit sounding, it was the Canadians who emerged from underneath their desks with an 8-7 victory at Everett Memorial Stadium.
No one could be sure quite where the ball was going Sunday. The pitchers certainly didn’t know, as the two teams’ staffs combined on 15 walks, three hit batters and five wild pitches. Vancouver’s defense added to the circus late as the Canadians tried to give the game back in the bottom of the ninth inning. Even the fans in the stands were in danger as one was seen with an ice pack on her head after being drilled by a foul ball.
But Vancouver was able to grind it out, scoring twice in the top of the seventh on Tim Locastro’s two-run double to snap a 6-6 tie. Both runners who scored on the play reached base via walk.
“It was not a very well played game,” Vancouver catcher Mike Reeves, who walked twice and was also plunked, said with a wry smile. “But I’m glad we came out on top.”
In addition to the 11 baserunners Vancouver had as a result of walks and hit batters, the Canadians spiked the mix with six doubles as they scored the game’s final four runs. Chris Carlson went 2-for-3 with two walks and Alexis Maldonado was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to lead Vancouver (12-12 second half, 37-25 overall), which moved two games ahead of Everett for first place in the Northwest League North Division’s second-half standings.
Luke Guarnaccia had two hits and two RBI, Kristian Brito was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs, and Phillips Castillo and Austin Cousino both homered to pace the Sox (10-14, 21-41).
Jackson High School graduate Nick Kiel made his first appearance at Everett Memorial as a member of the Sox on Sunday. Kiel, who was promoted from Peoria of the rookie Arizona League last week and had made two road appearances with Everett, pitched the final three innings, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks and striking out one in taking the loss.
“It’s a tough one, it got away from us,” Guarnaccia said. “What is there to say when you lose? We just didn’t execute late in the game and gave up too many runs.
“Those games get tough because the innings are long,” Guarnaccia added about the wild nature of the game. “As a catcher you start feeling your legs burning. But as a good teammate you have to keep the pitchers tuned into the game no matter what happens and get them to just throw strikes.”
Wildness first gaveth, then tooketh away for the Sox. Everett was trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when the Sox scored four runs with the aid of four walks to surge into the lead. Cousino led the inning off with a classic Everett Memorial Stadium homer, lifting a high fly ball that just cleared the short porch in right-center to get the Sox within one. Isaiah Yates walked and later scored on a wild pitch. Then after the Canadians had walked the bases loaded, Guarnaccia poked a two-out, two-strike pitch into right-center for a two-run single, giving Everett a 6-4 lead.
But in the top of the sixth the tables turned. Everett relievers Leoncio Munoz and Hawtin Buchanan conspired to load the bases with nobody out. Buchanan got two outs without any runs scoring, but then he walked in one run and forced home another by hitting a batter, and it was tied 6-6.
It was more of the same in the top of the seventh when a pair of walks brought Locastro to the plate with two on and two out. Locastro then ripped a liner high off the wall in center, bringing home both runners to give Vancouver an 8-6 lead.
The Canadians nearly gave it back to Everett in the ninth. Vancouver third baseman Maldonado spiked a throw to first into the dirt, allowing leadoff batter Andy Peterson to reach via error. Yates followed with a grounder to first that went between first baseman Ryan McBroom’s legs, the second straight error giving Everett runners at the corners with nobody out.
That brought Corey Simpson, Everett’s leading home run hitter, to the plate. But the Canadians turned a nice double play on Simpson’s chopper to third, and although a run scored on the play to make it 8-7, the threat was gone and the game was over one batter later.
Everett pitcher Lukas Schiraldi, who hadn’t pitched since July 29 because of a back injury, started on the mound for the Sox. Schiraldi went one inning and he made the most of it, striking out the side.