EVERETT — A few minutes past 8 Monday night would have been a bad time to be driving past Everett Memorial Stadium.
There was a good chance of having a windshield shattered.
The Everett AquaSox decided to provide the neighborhood with a few souvenirs in the bottom of the fourth inning, sending three balls into the twilight as the Sox routed the Yakima Bears 7-2.
Juan Fuentes, Welington Dotel and Ryan Royster each homered during the inning as Everett’s quick burst of power allowed the Sox to coast home.
“We’re just trying to stay nice and relaxed, taking good swings and trying to execute,” Royster said. “We know our park pretty well and sometimes we get the ball over the wall.”
Nick Czyz made sure that was more than enough offensive support, tossing seven strong innings as Everett (11-6) rattled off its fifth straight victory. The Sox also assured themselves the win in the five-game series, which still has two games remaining.
“That’s big,” Royster said of the streak, which has kept the Sox within two games of Salem-Keizer for first place in the Northwest League’s West Division. “Pitching has been keeping us right in games. We’ve been executing pretty well at the plate, but you can’t ask for better pitching.”
Czyz was the provider of that pitching Monday. The left-hander was at his masterful best, establishing the inside half of the plate early in at-bats and then using his changeup away as his out pitch. He gave up just one run on three hits and two walks, striking out seven in what was the longest outing by an Everett starter this season. At one point he set down 12 straight Bears.
And Czyz pulled it off against a Yakima team that slugged five homers and scored 14 runs one day earlier.
“I wasn’t really thinking about that,” Czyz said. “I tried to go out there and keep the ball down. It’s a hitter’s park for sure, so I just tried to keep the ball down, mix it up, keep them off balance and throw strikes.”
Ryan Wheeler provided the lone bright spot for the Bears (7-10) as he homered for the second consecutive game.
Everett was already ahead 3-1 when it broke out the big lumber against Yakima starter Riocardo Tavares in the bottom of the fourth. It began when Fuentes, leading off, lined a shot over the fence in left-center. Two pitches later Dotel launched a high fly over the wall in right-center for back-to-back solo shots. Later in the inning Royster belted a ball deep into the homer porch in right for a two-run shot. Once the dust settled Everett’s lead had grown to 7-1.
The power burst came despite a conscious effort by the Sox to not get caught up in the homer frenzy.
“Actually, you have to try and stay focused on what you do best, how you can best help the team, and try not to get caught up in it,” explained Royster, Everett’s leadoff batter who hadn’t homered previously this season. “If you get a good swing and catch it right sometimes it jumps over, but you try to stay focused on what you do.”
Yakima struck first in the top of the second. With two out Jhoan Pimentel singled, then raced the rest of the way home when Zach Varnell doubled over the head of Royster in center, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Everett quickly tied it up in the bottom of the second. Fuentes led off with a double off the right-field wall, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Guy Welsh’s sacrifice fly to center, making it 1-1.
The Bears then gift-wrapped the Sox two more runs in the third. Anthony Phillips reached when right fielder Dan Kaczrowski dropped Phillips’ liner for a two-base error, then scored when Tavares air-mailed Hawkins Gebbers’ sacrifice bunt into right field. Gebbers then was given third on a wild pitch, allowing him to score on Mario Martinez’s nubber up the first-base line, as Everett went ahead 3-1.