They had every reason to be optimistic. They were facing the Vancouver Candaians, a team that they dispatched in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. They were sending to the mound a starting pitcher boasting the club’s lowest earned run average.
Vancouver (9-3) pounded Everett starter Tony Butler with a four-run first inning and then dispatched the Northwest League defending champion AquaSox 7-4 at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium.
Going into the game, Butler led the Aquasox (3-9) with a 0.90 ERA through two starts and allowed only one run in 10 innings and had struck out 14 batters.
You couldn’t tell on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-7 lefty struggled in the first inning, walking three Canadians, committing a balk and throwing a wild pitch that allowed a run to score.
An error by second baseman Jorge Agudelo meant all four Vancouver runs were unearned. The lone hit Butler gave up in the inning was to third baseman Roan Salas, who blasted his second home run of the season to center field. The two-run shot put Vancouver ahead 4-0.
Vancouver scored three more times in the fourth inning on Jonathan Jones RBI double and Shane Opitz’s two-RBI single. Butler (0-2) lasted four innings four Everett, surrendering seven runs, six hits four walks and striking out five.
While Butler was being roughed up, Vancouver right-hander Jesse Hernandez (1-0) was cruising. Hernandez retired the first 12 Frogs he faced and pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and walking one while striking out six.
Everett designated hitter James Wood broke up Hernandez’ perfect game by leading off the fifth inning with a single to right field. Michael Dowd followed with a single with Wood advancing to third and Dowd to second on a throwing error by Salas.
Patrick Brady drove in Wood with a sacrifice fly. That was the only run the Sox managed off Hernandez.
Everett next scored in the seventh inning to make it 7-2. They scored a run on back-to-back, one-out singles, a wild pitch, a walk and a fielder’s choice.
In the eighth inning, the Aquasox threatened to climb back into the game thanks to doubles by Marcus Littlewood and Dowd that were sandwiched around a Danny Lopez walk. But after a pitching change, with Dowd on second base and just one out, Agudelo lined out to the second baseman and Dowd was caught off base for a double play.
In the ninth, the Sox brought the tying run to the plate after Patrick Brady singled and Ethan Paquette was hit by a pitch, but Vancouver’s Drew Permison came on in relief to induce Mario Yepez to hit into a game-ending double play. Permison collected his fifth save on the year.
The Sox lineup was still without Jabari Blash and Jarett Burgess who continue to be day-to-day with minor injuries. Everett takes on Vancouver again today in Game 2 of the three-game series.