By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — This Everett AquaSox team has no fear of falling behind.
Once again Everett battled back from behind, and the Sox continued their winning ways with a 9-3 victory over the Tri-City Dust Devils on Thursday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Everett has made a habit of coming from behind during its drive toward the Northwest League West Division’s first-half title, and for the third straight game the Sox found themselves in a hole early. But for the third straight game Everett rallied, this time pulling away to win comfortably.
“I don’t know, we just trust in ourselves,” leadoff hitter Jamodrick McGruder, who reached base three times, said about Everett’s penchant for winning after falling behind. “I think it has to do with us trusting in ourselves and winning ballgames.
“It’s definitely fun,” McGruder added. “The guys get along, everyone’s at early work, everybody’s just working hard trying to win every game.”
Chris Taylor finished 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI to lead a balanced attack for Everett (20-7), which remains in pole position to claim the first-half title and earn a berth into the postseason. The Sox, who have won four straight, lead Vancouver and Eugene by 41/2 games with 11 games remaining in the half.
“One through nine really contributed,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said. “We got two big RBI by (No. 8 hitter Janelfry) Zorilla in his last at bat. All the guys contributed, so it was a real nice team win for us.”
Everett received another solid performance from starting pitcher Victor Sanchez. The 17-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, who took a shutout into the ninth inning his last time out, followed that up by stretching his streak of lasting at least six innings in every start to six. He allowed three runs on five hits and two walks in six innings, striking out five.
Kyle Von Tungeln made two spectacular diving catches in center field to highlight Tri-City’s night. The Dust Devils fell to 13-14.
The Dust Devils played most of the game without second baseman Yafistel Roja and manager Freddie Ocasio, who were ejected in the top of the second inning. Roja appeared to win a race with Sanchez to first base on a grounder to the hole on the right side of the infield. However, Roja was called out and immediately ejected after reacting to the call. Ocasio came over to object and was ejected after a lengthy argument.
Sanchez may have taken a shutout into the ninth in his previous start, but he didn’t even make it through the one inning without being scored on Thursday. The Dust Devils loaded the bases in the top of the first with one out. Then Tom Murphy dumped a broken-bat double just inside the right-field line, giving Tri-City an early 2-0 lead.
But Sanchez settled down after that, allowing just one run the rest of the way, and he punctuated his outing by punching out the final two batters he faced.
“It probably wasn’t the best game he’s had this year,” Mummau said of Sanchez. “His command wasn’t quite where it’s been in the past. Every pitcher is going to have those nights, and even though he didn’t have his best stuff he competed well.”
That allowed Everett the opportunity to rally from behind again. The Sox got one right back in the bottom of the first when Taylor’s double off the center-field wall scored McGruder all the way from first. The Sox then tied it in the third, courtesy of Taylor’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Sox then went ahead in the fourth, thanks to the bottom half of the lineup. Jean Acevedo took a two-strike pitch to the wall in right-center for an RBI double. One out later Ketel Marte brought Acevedo home with a single to left. Everett could have had more, but Von Tungeln made a diving catch on McGruder’s blooper to prevent further runs from scoring and keep it 4-2.
After the teams traded runs in the fifth, Everett added some insurance in the seventh. Acevedo’s sacrifice fly to right brought home one run, then Zorilla’s single to right plated two more, upping Everett’s lead to 8-3.