By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox head out today for an eight-game road trip. When they return there’s a good chance they’ll have a playoff berth in tow.
The first half of the Northwest League season concludes while the Sox are on the road, and Everett is in position to claim the West Division’s first-half title.
Everett went into Sunday’s action at 22-7, which put the Sox 4 1/2 games clear of Eugene in first place in the division with nine games remaining in the first half.
Everett just has to hold off the Emeralds and the Vancouver Canadians, who were one more game back, through its road trip to finish first. The Sox start the trip with three games at Salem-Keizer, which occupies last place in the West. It then concludes with five games at Yakima, which leads the East Division. The first half ends with the final game against Yakima.
However, Everett manager Rob Mummau said he wasn’t worrying about winning the first half and clinching a playoff berth.
“I hadn’t really thought about it,” Mummau said. “I know we’re playing well and we’ll just try to come out and try to play well again tomorrow.”
Mike Zunino may have received all the attention during Saturday’s doubleheader against Tri-City, given the Seattle Mariners’ first-round draft pick was making his professional debut. However, somewhat obscured by the commotion were some outstanding contributions by the rest of Everett’s team as the Sox swept the twinbill 6-3 and 5-1.
Chief among those contributions were the efforts of Everett’s starting pitchers. In the opener, Dylan Unsworth allowed two runs on five hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out nine. Seven of those strikeouts were looking as he had the Tri-City batters completely befuddled. Then in the nightcap Seven Ewing was equally effective, giving up one run on two hits and three walks in five innings, striking out six.
“Dylan went deep in the game and struck some guys out,” Mummau said. “He really kept the ball down well. Then Ewing, after having a little trouble in the second inning, made some real nice adjustments. He became more aggressive in the zone, attacking the strike zone using his fastball.”
And offensively, the critical blow in both games was delivered by an unexpected source. Going into the day David Villasuso and Janelfry Zorilla were hitting .299 — if you added their batting averages together. But Villasuso slugged a three-run home run in the first game and Zorilla matched that in the second game. Both homers were opposite-field jobs to right-center, and both gave Everett the lead for good.
“David and Zorilla did a nice job going the other way with two strikes,” Mummau said. “They’re two guys who don’t get to play every day, but they got their chance and took the opportunity.”
Everett’s loss Sunday was the Sox’s eighth of the season. Four of those have come on Sunday as Everett is just 1-4 on Sundays this season, including 0-3 at home. The Sox are 21-4 during the other six days of the week.
Opponent: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
When: 6:35 p.m.
Where: Volcanoes Stadium, Keizer, Ore.
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett right-hander Jose Valdivia (0-2, 6.65 ERA) vs. Salem-Keizer right-hander Joe Biagini (0-2, 3.26)