VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Everett AquaSox find themselves in a must-win situation today.
Vancouver third baseman Kellen Sweeney singled home Jorge Flores in the bottom of the eighth inning for the game’s lone run as the Canadians defeated the AquaSox 1-0 in Game 1 of the Northwest League West Division best-of-three playoff series at Nat Bailey Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Game 2 is tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium. Everett right-hander Victor Sanchez is scheduled to pitch for the AquaSox. Right-hander Taylor Cole is slated to pitch for the Canadians. The game begins at 7:05 p.m.
Five Vancouver pitchers combined to pitch a one-hitter — limiting the Aquasox to Patrick Kivlehan’s sixth-inning single.
The lack of offense wasted an outstanding performance by AquaSox starting pitcher Dylan Unsworth.
Unsworth had struggled against Vancouver in the regular season, posting a 7.00 ERA in two starts. But the right-hander pitched in 61⁄3 shutout innings on Monday, allowing four hits while strking out eight and walking none.
Two of those four hits came in the sixth when Tucker Frawley and Flores started the inning with back-to-back singles. DJ Davis sacrificed to move the runners to second and third. But Unsworth struck out Sweeney and retired Balbino Fuenmayor on a fly ball to keep the game scoreless.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Flores doubled off the wall in left field against AquaSox relief pitcher Dominic Leone (0-1). A passed ball allowed Flores to advance to third. Leone struck out Davis for the second out, but Sweeney lined Leone’s first pitch to right field to drive in the go-ahead run.
Everett had difficulty putting the ball in play, let alone getting a hit off Vancouver starter Roberto Osuna. Osuna was effectively wild in his three innings of work. The 17-year-old struck out six, walked three and hit a batter.
Osuna provided the Sox with one of their few scoring opportunities in the third when he hit Brock Hebert on a 0-2 pitch to lead off the inning. After Hebert stole second and third and Taylor Ard walked with two outs, Kivlehan hit a nubber that got past the mound. Third baseman Sweeney fielded the ball and fired to first, barely beating the speedy Kivlehan for the third out of the inning.
Everett’s only other scoring opportunity came in the sixth. With one out, Kivlehan singled to left and moved to second when reliever Colton Turner committed a balk. Turner struck out Dario Pizzano and retired Janelfry Zorrilla on a fly ball to end the threat.
Turner, Wil Browning (1-0) and Andrew Sikula combined to retire the last 11 Everett hitters.