EVERETT — D.J. Peterson claimed he didn’t know for certain the ball was gone when it left his bat.
Everyone else at Everett Memorial Stadium knew better.
Peterson crushed his first home run as a professional to give the Everett AquaSox a 3-1 victory over the Hillsboro Hops in the opening game of their doubleheader Saturday night.
And the Seattle Mariners’ first-round draft pick, playing his third game with the Sox, made sure his first homer was a memorable one. Not only was it destroyed, easily clearing the netting high above the left-field wall, it snapped a scoreless tie in Everett’s final at-bat to provide the game-winning runs.
“Not really,” Peterson admitted when pressed about whether he truly had any doubt about his homer. “Maybe a little bit. I saw the left fielder not even move, so I had a good idea it was going out.
“It felt very good to get that monkey off my back,” added Peterson, who turned on a first-pitch fastball for the three-run shot, which came in the bottom of the sixth inning. “I kind of felt like I got it a little bit, and then I saw it go over. It was good, and now I can just relax and have fun.”
The Sox also received a stellar performance by starting pitcher Thyago Vieira, who came two outs away from tossing a one-hit shutout. Vieira, who’s the rare baseball prospect from Brazil, lasted 62/3 innings in the game, which was shortened to seven innings to accommodate the doubleheader.
The right-hander spotted his low-90s fastball throughout the game, allowing two hits, walking two and striking out five. He allowed just one baserunner through 61/3 innings before tiring in the seventh.
Vieira was nearly matched by Hillsboro’s Austin Platt, who finished with a complete-game two-hitter. However, Platt made the one mistake to Peterson, which proved the difference.
“Both pitchers were throwing well,” Peterson said. “Our pitcher pitched his butt off, and credit to the other pitcher, he only gave up two hits. One just happened to cost him.”
Most of the game was a fast-moving pitchers duel between Vieira and Platt. The Sox had a great chance to break the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the fifth. Phillips Castillo led off with a walk, Christian Carmichael bounced a single to left, and Jamodrick McGruder laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with one out.
Bryan Brito then had his bat splinter as he chopped a grounder to second. Phillips Castillo broke home on contact, but second baseman William Castillo got rid of the ball quickly to nail him at the plate. Platt got Michael Faulkner to ground out to second to end the threat, and it remained scoreless.
But the Sox got another chance in the sixth, and Peterson cashed in. Jack Reinheimer reached on an error and Morales walked, setting up Peterson for his moment.
Hillsboro made a last-ditch effort in the seventh. Zach Esquerra’s RBI double to the right-center wall broke up the shutout, and the Hops put the tying run on base. But Steven Ewing came in and struck out Wagner Mateo to end the game.
Game 2: Hillsboro 7, Everett 1
Everett’s bullpen self-destructed in the top of the sixth inning, handing the Hops a 7-1 victory in the seven-inning nightcap.
The Sox headed into the sixth leading 1-0, thanks to five no-hit innings from starter Tyler Olson. However, reliever Richard White coughed up a leadoff homer to Ryan Kinsella to tie the score. Then he walked two batters, bobbled a sacrifice bunt for an error, and walked another runner in to force in a run and give the Hops the lead. Min-Sih Chen then came in and wild pitched in another run before giving up a two-run single to Esquerra to blow the game open.
Esquerra finished 2-for-4 with four RBI to lead Hillsboro (3-6). Justin Seager went 3-for-3 for Everett (7-2).