EVERETT — It may not have been quite as dramatic, but in its own way it was equally impressive.
For the second straight day the Everett AquaSox staged a stirring comeback, overcoming a six-run deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canadians 11-6 Sunday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“Phew, it’s pretty exciting,” was Everett manager Rob Mummau’s reaction to the dramatic 21-hour stretch. “These guys just never quit.”
The Canadians will be seeing the image of the Sox nipping at their heels in their nightmares for some time. Saturday night Everett rallied for five runs with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie it, then won in the 10th.
On Sunday the Sox were more deliberate. Trailing 6-0, Everett scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the seventh before erupting for six in the eighth to put an exclamation point on their comeback.
“That’s what’s special about our team, our guys don’t give up,” said Sox first baseman Taylor Ard, who homered, scored three runs and drove in two. “A lot of teams might do that when they get down early, but we keep pushing out and keep trying to score runs all nine innings.”
Mike Zunino followed up his clutch game-tying homer in the ninth Saturday with another homer Sunday, and Patrick Kivlehan went 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Sox (4-2 second half, 32-12 overall).
Balbino Fuenmayor drove in three runs to lead the Canadians (3-4, 25-19).
Early on it looked as though the Sox would continue their vampiric tendencies. Everett came into the game 1-5 in day games this season, several of those defeats coming by lopsided scores. When Vancouver led 6-0 after the top of the second inning, it looked like the Sox would be spending yet another afternoon in their coffins.
But reliever Ambioris Hidalgo stopped the bleeding. Starter Steven Ewing, who was coming off a missed start because of a strained latissimus dorsi muscle, was not sharp and lasted just 11/3 innings. But Hidalgo picked up the slack, throwing 42/3 shutdown innings to give the Sox a chance to come back.
“He was in the rotation, came out of the rotation, and the last two times out he’s been really tough,” Mummau said of Hidalgo. “He’s been really aggressive with his fastball, throwing a ton of strikes.”
Oh, and how the Sox rallied. It began innocently enough when Ard slugged a solo homer to dead center leading off the fourth.
But the Sox kept chipping away. Kivlehan’s two-run single in the fifth cut the deficit to three, Zunino’s two-run homer in the seventh made it a one-run game. Zunino’s homer, which he took the opposite way to right, was his sixth in 16 games with the Sox.
Then came the big rally in the eighth — a big rally sparked by small ball. After Brock Hebert led the inning off by legging out a double, the Sox tried to play for one run. But Janelfry Zorrilla and Mike Faulkner both placed their bunts perfectly and beat them out for singles. Faulkner’s was a suicide-squeeze bunt scored Hebert with the tying run.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Ketel Marte pulled a double to right to bring home the go-ahead run. Ard walked with the bases loaded to force home another run. Then an RBI single by Kivlehan and a two-run double by David Villasuso capped off what was a dramatic swing as Everett’s scored the game’s final 11 runs.
“Hits start rallies,” Ard said about playing small ball. “Home runs are nice, obviously Zunino’s last night helped us a lot. But scrapping together singles and doubles and keeping constant pressure, that’s how you get rallies and how we got that six spot.”
Vancouver got things started quickly, putting a run on the board in the top of the first. Monroe High School graduate Ian Parmley led off the game with a walk, took third on Nicholas Baligod’s single, then scored on Fuenmayor’s sacrifice fly to right, staking the Canadians to a 1-0 lead.
The Canadians then seemed to bust it open in the second. Derrick Chung’s double to the wall in left plated the first run. Then after Vancouver loaded the bases, an infield single by Jason Leblebijian and a bases-loaded walk by Baligod each brought home one run and chased Ewing. Fuenmayor then greeted Hidalgo by grounding his first pitch down the third-base line for a two-run double, making it 6-0.
But all that did was set the stage for another Everett comeback.