EVERETT — It’s been a long time coming, but Scott DeCecco can finally call himself a winner in the professional ranks.
With victory eluding him for more than a month, DeCecco finally earned his first win as a pro as he led the Everett AquaSox to a 4-1 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes on Thursday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“I’ve definitely been waiting for this,” DeCecco, Everett’s starting pitcher Thursday, said. “I was asking for the ball afterwards.”
DeCecco, a 21st-round pick in this year’s amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners, was effective through his first eight appearances with the Sox. He started twice previously and performed well, and Everett won both games comfortably.
However, DeCecco was ineligible for the win both times because, as he had been pitching out of the bullpen prior to each start and was therefore on a short pitch limit, he didn’t make it through the five innings required to be eligible for a victory.
But not only did DeCecco reach five innings Thursday, he dominated. In 52/3 innings, the left-hander allowed a single run on three hits and two walks while striking out nine.
“I feel like I pitched well,” DeCecco said. “I had real good command of my fastball. My curveball was there at times, my changeup got better as the game went along. But if you have command of the fastball on both sides of the plate you can do a lot of good things.”
Equally effective was Sox reliever Marcos Reyna. Reyna had fought his control throughout the season, but the righty was on his game Thursday, closing out the contest with 31/3 hitless innings. He walked one and struck out four as he picked up his second save.
“He got off to kind of a slow start, but his last few times out he’s been real effective,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said of Reyna. “It’s really good to see that here in the second half.
“(Both pitchers) sure pitched well,” Mummau added. “They attacked the zone really well, pitched off their fastball and threw a ton of strikes, so I was really proud of them.”
Taylor Ard homered and Patrick Kivlehan had two hits to lead Everett’s offense. The Sox improved to 2-1 in the second half of the Northwest League season and 30-11 overall.
Matt Duffy had two of Salem-Keizer’s three hits in the game. The Volcanoes fell to 1-2, 14-27.
Early on the game shaped up as a pitching duel between DeCecco and Salem-Keizer starter Joe Biagini, with both putting a series of zeroes on the scoreboard. Biagini mowed down Sox batters the first time through the lineup, facing the minimum through three innings. However, when Sox batters got a second look at Biagini in the fourth they broke it open.
In a scoreless game, Jamodrick McGruder led off the fourth inning by belting a double off the wall in right-center. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored when Ketel Marte reached out for an outside pitch and rolled a single up the middle.
After Mike Zunino flew out to the warning track at the deepest part of the park in center, Ard ripped a liner over the fence in left for a two-run homer, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.
DeCecco was superb through five innings, allowing just four baserunners, none of whom advanced beyond second base. But the Volcanoes found a chink in the armor in the sixth. Kentrell Hill led off with a walk and Matt Duffy followed by slicing a double down the right-field line. Hill scored on the play, but a perfect relay throw from second baseman Brock Hebert nailed Duffy at third to snuff out any threat of a rally.
Everett tacked on an unusual run in the eighth. Mike Faulkner, on second base, took advantage of confusion about the call on a line drive hit by Marte and lit out for third. Salem-Keizer relief pitcher Randy Zeigler threw the ball away trying to nail Faulkner at third, and Faulker came in to score to complete the scoring.