EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox just can’t seem to “catch” a break.
After dropping two straight high-scoring one-run games on the road to Hillsboro, the Frogs returned home only to lose another one-run heartbreaker, 2-1 to the Tri-City Dust Devils in 11 innings.
Everett (5-17) has lost four consecutive games and nine of its past 10.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the 11th inning, the AquaSox turned to catcher Luke Guarnaccia for a relief pitching appearance. His first attempt at professional pitching started out promising, but didn’t end well. After getting third baseman Renaldo Jenkins to pop out to first base, Guarnaccia walked first baseman Miguel Dilone and gave up a single to center fielder Francisco Sosa.
Guarnaccia struck out the next batter, designated hitter Richard Prigatano, and with two outs it looked as though he might get out of trouble. Unfortunately, left fielder Dillon Thomas prevented that with an RBI-single to center field that scored Dilone and gave the Dust Devils a 2-1 lead.
Relief pitcher Scott Firth picked up the save by retiring the AquaSox in order in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Runs were at a premium in what proved to be quite the pitcher’s duel between Everett starter Jeffeson Medina and Tri-City starter Grahamm Wiest.
The game’s first real scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the third inning when the AquaSox led off with back-to-back bunt singles by third baseman Taylor Smart and second baseman Jordan Cowan, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the batting order respectively. Wiest got the next two batters, shortstop Nelson Ward and center fielder Austin Cousino, to fly out to left field and then picked off Smart at second base to end the inning and get out of trouble.
The Dust Devils led off the top of the fourth inning with the same strategy the AquaSox used in the previous inning. Jenkins squared a bunt down the third-base line on the first pitch from Everett Medina and narrowly beat the throw to first base for the Dust Devils’ second hit of the game. Dilone followed with a single to right field to give Tri-City runners on first and second with nobody out just as Everett had in the previous inning.
Unlike the Frogs, the Dust Devils capitalized on the situation. Sosa followed Dilone by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play. Jenkins, who advanced to third on the double play, scored moments later on a single to center field by Prigatano giving Tri-City a 1-0 lead.
The Dust Devils threatened to add more in the fifth inning after Wiest retired the AquaSox in order in the bottom of the fourth. Tri-City’s second baseman Sam Bumpers led off the top of the fifth with a hit for a second consecutive inning. Bumpers stole second and advanced to third on a groundout, but the Dust Devils left him stranded there.
Everett finally scored with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Cousino extended his home-hitting streak to six games with a single to right field. He advanced to second on a throwing error by Wiest, who attempted to pick off Cousino at first base. The error proved costly when Cousino scored on a single to left field by catcher Adam Martin.
Martin, who finished the game 3-for-4, had doubled off the wall in left-center field earlier in the game.
The Dust Devils went to the bullpen after the sixth inning. Wiest gave up one run on six hits, struck out five and walked one in his six innings of work.
Medina worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning, which proved to be his last of the game. In seven innings Medina gave up five hits, struck out five and walked one.
Facing relief pitcher Billy Waltrip, Martin singled off the wall in right-center field in the bottom of the ninth inning. He advanced to second moments later on a wild pitch, giving the AquaSox a runner in scoring position with just one out, but they failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Dust Devils had a chance of their own in the top of the 10th inning when relief pitcher Sam Lindquist walked back-to-back batters with one out. Bumpers, the lead runner, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice. Bumpers would have scored easily on a hard-hit grounder by Marcos Derkes, but a diving stop and throw to first to force out Derkes by Cowan ended the inning and kept the Frogs alive for the moment.
Aaron Lommers covers sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.