EVERETT — Sometimes a pitching change can breathe life into an offense, no matter the quality of the reliever trotting in from the bullpen. Such was the case for the Everett AquaSox Thursday night.
After being held scoreless by Yakima Bears starter Kyle Owings through 52/3 innings, Janelfry Zorrilla hit a three-run homer off reliever Jose Jose and the Sox went on to win 6-1.
Jose (2-3) entered the game with a 0.92 ERA and had not allowed an earned run since June 23, a period of 242/3 innings. The left-hander relieved Owings with two outs and runner on second in the bottom of the sixth.
Bears manager Audo Vicente wanted to force switch-hitting catcher Marcus Littlewood to bat from the right side where he is hitting just .190 this season as opposed to .286 when facing right-handers.
But Jose walked Littlewood on a full count and fell behind Zorrilla 3-1 before the Everett center fielder drove a belt-high fastball over the left-field wall. Zorrilla’s long-ball was the first homer Jose surrendered this season.
Zorrilla and Littlewood each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored to lead the Sox (14-16, 42-26). Kevin Medrano had two hits for Yakima (13-17, 34-34).
The offense came too late for Sox starter Marcos Reyna to earn the win, but Reyna recorded his second straight solid outing since being elevated to the starting rotation last week. The right-hander went 51/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits and struck out six.
Blake Hauser (3-1) struck out two in 21/3 scoreless innings to earn the win and Dominic Leone got the final four outs to pick up his fifth save.
Everett scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth to put the game away.
Jamodrick McGruder led off with a walk and came home on a Jose wild pitch in the seventh. Facing Will Locante in the eighth, McGruder hit a groundball that was misplayed by shortsop Medrano that allowed Littlewood and Zorrilla to score the final two runs.
The Bears scored their only run in the third on a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly.