EVERETT — The second half of the Northwest League season continues to be much more kind to the Everett AquaSox than the first half was.
The Frogs, coming off their first series win of the season against Boise to start the second half, made it 2-for-2 with a 7-5 victory that gave them two of three games against Tri-Cities. The victory helps Everett (5-3 second half, 16-30 overall) maintain its very early lead in the second-half standings.
Everett got off to a quick start when catcher Adam Martin hit a sacrifice fly to score Austin Cousino and give Everett a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. The Frogs added another run an inning later with an RBI sacrifice bunt by Jordan Cowan.
Corey Simpson helped break the game open with a two-run double in the fifth inning. Sheehan Planas-Arteaga added another run in the inning on an RBI groundout, helping the AquaSox pull away.
One of the newest AquaSox, James Alfonso — who was promoted about two weeks ago from the Arizona League — hit his first home run for the Frogs, driving a solo shot to right-center field in the sixth inning. An RBI single by Nelson Ward in the eighth brought Cousino across home plate again to give the game its final score.
Those additional runs proved crucial in the game’s outcome.
Cesar Galvez lined a two-out, three-run double in the top of the ninth inning as Tri-Cities (3-5, 17-29) closed the gap to two runs. But that’s as close as the Dust Devils got. Brett Ash got a line out to second base to end the game and clinch the victory.
Everett starter Lukas Schiraldi (1-2) pitched five shutout innings to get his first professional win for the AquaSox, who head to Eugene for a three-game series that begins Wednesday. Relievers Hawtin Buchanan, Kody Kerski and Ash combined to hold off the Dust Devils.
Cowan’s big day
For the second time this season, infielder Jordan Cowan — officially listed as a second baseman — found himself called upon to pitch, this time in Everett’s 6-5 11-inning loss to Tri-Cities on Monday night.
Cowan made his Northwest League pitching debut on July 12, getting the final two outs for Everett in an 11-4 Frogs’ victory. He pitched the 10th and 11th innings on Monday, surrendering a sacrifice fly to Tri-Cities.
“We just ran out of pitching,” Cowan said. “They just threw me out there to throw strikes and hopefully get outs.”
Cowan had one appearance for the Pulaski Mariners in the Appalachian League last year. Prior to that, he estimates he last pitched when he was “14- or 13-years old.”
“It’s fun. How many position players get the chance to say they pitched in professional baseball?” Cowan said. “I never did in high school. It’s kind of cool to say that. I love playing infield and hitting.”
“We’re trying to make him into a closer,” manager Dave Valle deadpanned.
In two games this season, Cowan is 0-1 with a 3.38 earned-run average, one run allowed and one strikeout in 22/3 innings.
The Covington native didn’t just leave his mark on Monday’s game as a pitcher. Cowan hit the first home run of his professional career while leading off the top of the eighth inning, belting a line drive to right-center field that jumpstartd a four-run rally for the AquaSox in the inning.
The homer broke an 0-for-19 slump for Cowan.
“That’s a pretty cool thing. I didn’t think it would happen like that,” Cowan said. “I was kind of in a slump recently and just got an inside fastball, got my hands to it and somehow it got out of here. It’s kind of cool just to have one under my belt now.
“When I hit it I had a pretty good feeling it was going out, but I’m always watching it — always begging for it to go out.”
The homer gave Cowan the unique distinction of hitting a home run and being the losing pitcher in the same Northwest League game.
Going into Tuesday night’s game against Tri-City, the AquaSox, who have been outscored 213-174 this season, had outscored opponents 34-16 in the eighth inning. It’s the only inning the Frogs have an advantage in runs scored. Everett and its opponents have each scored 20 runs apiece in the ninth inning of their games this season.