EVERETT — Dan Altavilla had been waiting a long time for this.
The Everett AquaSox pitcher finally earned his first win as a professional in Everett’s 3-1 victory over the Boise Hawks during Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Altavilla has been in Everett’s starting rotation since the season began. However, it wasn’t until his eighth attempt Friday that he was able to put his first notch in the win column.
“I definitely had been waiting,” Altavilla said.
“It’s a great feeling,” he added. “It’s nice to get it under my belt now. The first couple outings I was just getting used to pro ball, so it feels great.”
Altavilla is one of the higher profile players on Everett’s roster this season, having been selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round of this year’s draft. The 21-year-old right-hander from Greenock, Penn., won the inaugural Brett Tomko Award this year as the NCAA Division II National Pitcher of the Year after going 9-1 with a 1.23 earned run average this spring as a junior at Mercyhurst University.
But victory eluded Altavilla during the first half of the Northwest League season. Indeed, in his first seven starts Altavilla didn’t even last long enough to become eligible for a victory. His longest start during the first half was 42/3 innings on July 3 at Hillsboro. Difficulties finding the strike zone (19 walks in his first 25 innings) led to high pitch counts, which in turn led to early exits.
However, Altavilla was sharper Friday. He went six innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five.
“I felt great,” Altavilla said about his Friday performance. “I was able to work ahead, something I haven’t’ done well this year. But I’m starting to get ahead, and that makes things a lot easier when you’re ahead of the batters, they’re on the defensive end instead of attacking.
“The fastball was definitely working, I was able to locate it wherever I wanted.”
At 5-feet, 11-inches and 200 pounds, Altavilla is small for a pitcher. However, he gets a lot out of his frame, throwing a fastball that reaches the low 90s and a sharp-breaking slider. Early in the season, he relied almost exclusively on those two pitches, but Friday he mixed in more changeups and it seemed to make a difference.
“I threw quite a few changeups because they had a few lefties in the lineup who had some power,” Altavilla explained. “We wanted to get them to roll over and not hit the ball in the air. I think that was an effective pitch (Friday) night.”
Altavilla may be just 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA overall, but he’s hoping Friday’s victory opens the winning floodgates.