HILLSBORO, Ore. — The Everett AquaSox have been on the wrong end of more than their share of close games so far during the Northwest League season. Monday night they got one back.
Everett scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning, then spectacularly survived a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the bottom of the ninth to come from behind and beat the Hillsboro Hops 5-4.
Nine of Everett’s 13 losses this season were by three or fewer runs, including five one-run defeats, and the Sox have made a habit of stranding the tying or go-ahead runs in the late innings. The Sox seemed headed to another of those Monday as they trailed 4-2 going into the ninth.
But Everett rallied. The Sox loaded the bases with two out on singles by Kyle Petty and Luke Guarnaccia and a walk by Taylor Smart. Chris Mariscal followed by lining a single to center. Hillsboro center fielder Taylor Ratliff, in a rush to try and prevent Guarnaccia from scoring from second with the tying run, misplayed the ball. That not only let Guarnaccia score, it also allowed Smart to come around from first and give the Sox a 5-4 lead.
Then Everett did its best Houdini impersonation in the bottom of the ninth. An infield hit and a pair of bunts on which no out was recorded gave Hillsboro the bases loaded with nobody out. The Hops only needed to get the runner from third home to extend the game. However, Mariscal made a nice play on George Roberts’ chopper to short to make the first out at home. Then Grant Heyman grounded to third, where Smart stepped on the bag and threw across the diamond to first for a game-ending double play.
Guarnaccia finished 3-for-4 and Phillips Castillo went 2-for-4 with a home run to lead Everett (5-13), which snapped a five-game losing streak. Leoncio Munoz earned the win with 31/3 innings of stellar scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and striking out five. Cruz Pereira picked up the save for the ninth-inning escape.
Elvin Soto went 4-for-5 to lead Hillsboro (11-7). Hops closer Zac Curtis, who came into the game having been unscored upon this season and having struck out 11 in six innings, took the loss.