First-half title in hand, Sox focus on finishing strong

EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox found out about clinching the Northwest League North Division’s first-half title in a rather unconventional manner.

Instead of getting a chance to celebrate their accomplishment on the field following a victory, the Sox instead received the news on the team bus.

Saturday night the Sox had won 8-7 at Boise to put their magic number at one. Then on the way back to the hotel from the game they found out Vancouver had lost to Eugene, meaning Everett had won the first half and clinched a playoff berth.

“After the game we had no idea what was going on,” Everett shortstop Jack Reinheimer recalled. “Vancouver had to lose its game, it worked out, and the guys were fired up when we found out. It was a lot of fun.

“It was a little different way (to clinch a title), but it’s never bad news.”

Whatever the method of receiving the news, the Sox were thrilled to bring home the title.

Everett finished the first half, which concluded Monday, with a 23-15 record, finishing one game ahead of Vancouver atop the North Division. The Sox put themselves in position by winning 14 of their first 16 games, then managed to hold off the Canadians down the stretch.

“It feels great,” Sox manager Rob Mummau said about claiming the first-half title. “The kids played hard every day. They came out and won a bunch of close games, which I think shows the character of our team. I’m real happy for the kids.”

Mummau said there wasn’t any specific key to the Sox winning the first half.

“I think it was the whole team,” Mummau said. “It seemed like somebody different every night contributed with the big hit or the big defensive play. I don’t think it’s any one specific thing, it was a team effort.”

Added Reinheimer: “The key was probably just being consistent. We were never really too high or too low. We just came out and had the same mentality every day. It didn’t matter who we were playing, we were going to play hard.”

Now Everett knows it’ll be in the postseason, regardless of how the second half unfolds. Last year, the Sox also won the first half, then finished with a losing record in the second half and were swept by Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs. Therefore, the Sox know they can’t change their approach to the game in the second half, despite already having a postseason berth sewed up.

“It doesn’t change at all,” Mummau said. “We’re going to keep working hard and trying to get better. Every day it’s staying on the grind and not trying to get too high or too low.”

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