By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Evan Sharpley was having a rough day at the office.
In the field, he committed an error that led to a run. At bat, he twice watched strike three crossed the plate. Nothing seemed to be going his way.
But baseball is a sport that provides opportunities to make amends, and when the Everett AquaSox first baseman came to the plate a third time he more than made up for his past mistakes.
Sharpley delivered the decisive hit, and the Sox continued their record start by beating the Yakima Bears 4-2 Wednesday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Sharpley’s two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning snapped a 2-2 tie as Everett rang up its sixth straight victory to start the season. That’s the team’s best start since Everett became the AquaSox in 1995.
“So far, so good, right?” Sharpley said.
“Whatever they’re feeding us up there, they better keep giving it to us,” Sharpley added with a laugh.
Yakima (1-5) suffered its fifth straight defeat.
Everett received strong pitching from the trio of Yoervis Medina, Austin Hudson and Stephen Pryor. They combined on a five-hitter, holding Yakima in check until Sharpley struck.
In the sixth, the Sox put runners at first and second with two out thanks to Kevin Mailloux’s single and a Kevin Rivers walk, bringing Sharpley to the plate. Sharpley struck out looking on a fastball in the first and struck out looking on a breaking ball in the fourth. This time he didn’t let it get to that point. On the first pitch from reliever Greg Robinson he roped a liner into the left-center gap. Both runners came around to score easily, giving Everett a two-run lead.
“His strength is hitting the ball to the other side,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said of Sharpley. “He’s a left-handed hitter who can hit real well to the opposite field. Maybe he’d been trying to do too much, maybe he was trying to pull too much with the short porch in right. But he made a real good adjustment there to hit the ball to the other side. That was a big hit for us with men in scoring position.”
Sharpley’s night was representative of the Sox as a whole. Everett’s batters struck out 13 times in eight innings as Yakima’s pitchers handcuffed the Sox for most of the night — Bears starter Andrew Wolcott fanned nine in 51/3 innings. Yet Everett still got the job done, despite the whiffs.
And Everett’s pitchers were even nastier than Yakima’s. Medina turned in his second straight strong start. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he was on opening night, when he allowed just three baserunners in six innings. But he still struck out seven in 52/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks.
Medina’s biggest weapon was his slider, which was responsible for most of his strikeouts.
“Medina is doing a real good job,” Moreno said. “He was able to throw his breaking pitch for a strike, even when he was behind in the count.
“He has a chance,” Moreno added, suggesting Medina has the goods to move up in the Seattle Mariners organization. “I think he has a chance to be a real good pitcher in the future.”
Hudson picked up the win with 11/3 innings of scoreless relief, improving to 2-0. Pryor, making his professional debut, then tossed two electric innings to pick up the save. Pryor, the Mariners’ fifth-round pick in this year’s draft, used his mid-90s fastball and a wicked breaking pitch to strike out four.
Everett grabbed an early lead with a run in the bottom of the first. Wolcott walked the bases loaded with one out, then Bears outfielders Ender Inciarte and Justin Hilt collided going after Jimmy Jacquot’s routine fly ball. The play turned into a fielder’s choice after the ball squirted free, but Dwight Britton was still able to score from third.
Yakima tied it in the top of the second. Michael Weber struck out on a ball in the dirt, but reached second when Sharpley couldn’t handle Jacquot’s throw from the plate. He advanced to third on Raywilly Gomez’s infield single, then scored on Evan Button’s fielder’s choice grounder, knotting it at 1-1.
Everett regained the lead in the fourth. Jacquot laced a one-out double to the left-center gap, then scored on Jose Rivero’s legged-out double to center, giving the Sox a 2-1 advantage.
The Bears tied it again in the sixth, Weber’s double to center scoring Yazy Arbelo from second to make it 2-2.