By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox are threatening to end the Northwest League’s North Division first-half race before it’s really even started.
Everett continued its scorching start to the season during its recently-completed three-game road trip against the Tri-City Dust Devils, and for the second straight year the Sox have blown past the competition out of the gate.
Everett swept its three games against Tri-City to improve to 12-2. Going into Friday night’s action that was the league’s best record by two games, and it gave the Sox a four-game lead in the North. The sweep also kept the Sox perfect on the road this season as they’ve won all six games away from Everett Memorial Stadium.
So how does one explain Everett’s early success, particularly on the road?
“I don’t know if you do,” Everett manager Rob Mummau responded. “It’s a small sample size, just six games in a long season. Hopefully we can just keep going with the winning ways.”
Everett’s most recent sweep of a road series was similar to its previous one. All three games in Pasco were close, but the Sox prevailed in all three, winning by three, two and one runs, respectively. Everett’s pitching was particularly effective as the Sox allowed just four runs. The bullpen did the heavy work as six Everett relievers combined to throw 102/3 scoreless innings in the series.
“We had some really good performances by our pitching staff,” Mummau said. “It wasn’t just the starters, but also from the bullpen. Guys competed well and we scored just enough runs to win each game.”
Everett’s start is reminiscent of last season, when the Sox opened the season 13-3. That team cruised to the West Division’s first-half title, finishing 28-10 to outpace Eugene by 31/2 games. The Sox are hoping this year’s quick start also results in clinching an early playoff berth, and with a four-game cushion over Vancouver they can already start thinking about winning the first half to earn a playoff berth.
“That’s very nice,” Mummau said. “We’re not exactly scoreboard watching, but the fact we’re coming out the first 14 games battling and competing very well is a a good sign. I think we’re a lot of fun to watch right now.”
However, last year’s fast start and first-half title didn’t work out for the Sox in the long run. Everett had several key players promoted after winning the first half, finished with the worst record in the West Division in the second half, then was swept by Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs.
But no doubt the Sox will be just fine with the first half unfolding the way it did a year ago.