By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox have reached the point where they’d just as soon start games in the second inning. The first inning has not been kind to the Sox.
Everett once again found itself playing from behind early in the contest, and the Sox were unable to catch up as they fell 7-3 to the Hillsboro Hops on Monday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The Northwest League season is now four games old, and the Sox have allowed runs in the top of the first in all four contests. On Monday, the Hops put four runs on the board in the first, and Everett was never able to get within striking distance.
“It starts to test your character as a baseball player and a team, because your approach changes when you’re down,” Everett manager Dave Valle said. “You play a little bit more defensively. Clearly you’d like to be playing from the other side of it. But it’s all good opportunities for these young guys to understand what it takes to play winning baseball.”
Inevitably, Todd Glaesmann was right in the middle of Hillsboro’s first-inning rally as he continued his one-man evisceration of the Sox pitching staff. Glaesmann hit a two-run home run in the top of the first and drove in three runs total to lead the Hops. Glaesmann, a sixth-year pro who retired during the offseason before unretiring in time for the start of the Northwest League season, is 8-for-15 in the series. Six of those hits went for extra bases, including two homers.
“When is he going to get out of this league? That’s what I want to know,” Valle quipped. “He’s a very good player, and he has been. As I understand it he’s just here to get some at-bats. He’s clearly a much more mature player. We’ve made some mistakes and he’s covered every one of them, he hasn’t let one of those mistakes get by. I doubt he’s going to be around very much longer.”
Justin Gonzalez also hit a two-run homer for the Hops (3-1), who have taken three straight from the Sox. Nick Baker earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
Austin Cousino, the Seattle Mariners’ third-round pick in this year’s amateur draft who was making his professional debut, homered in his second at-bat to lead Everett (1-3). The homer was Everett’s first of the season.
The first inning was a disaster for the Sox as they found themselves trailing 4-0 before they even had a chance to bat.
Glaesmann got things started as he continued to torment the Sox pitchers, belting a two-run homer to center to get Hillsboro on the board. Everett’s defense then let the Sox down as an error by third baseman Chris Mariscal and a pair of wild pitches from starting pitcher Noel De La Cruz resulted in a third run. Finally, Grant Heyman and Nate Robertson pulled off a double steal, with Sox catcher Kyle Petty arguing vehemently he tagged Heyman before Heyman slid into home. But Heyman was called safe, and the Sox found themselves trailing in the first inning for the fourth game in a row, down 4-0.
“We had a couple of plays that could have gone our way, but they didn’t, and they ended up putting up a four spot pretty quickly,” Valle said. “It’s always tough to play come-from-behind baseball.
“For a lot of the kids they’re just getting started in their pro careers, so it could be nerves,” Valle added about why the Sox may be having slow starts. “They’re going to be fine. There’s going to be some bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s all a part of the process.”
De La Cruz settled down after that. The right-hander gave up four runs in the top of the first, but nothing after that, retiring 12 straight at one stretch. He lasted six innings, allowing five hits and a walk and striking out five. Just two of the four runs he allowed were earned. Nevertheless, he was saddled with the loss.
Everett got on the board in the third when Cousino golfed a pitch into the homer porch in right field, cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Hillsboro got that run back in the seventh, and it was Glaesmann again as he bounced an RBI single to left to make it 5-1.
The Sox scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh when Luke Guarnaccia scored on Hops shortstop Gonzalez’s two-out throwing error, making it 5-2.
But the Hops put it out of reach in the eighth when Gonzalez blasted a two-run shot to right-center to increase Hillsboro’s lead to five.