By JOHN MCDONALD
EVERETT – Yakima’s Nick Alvarez would not be denied.
The Bears’ outfielder drove in all three Yakima runs, the third on a 12th-inning sacrifice fly, to beat the Everett AquaSox 3-2 Tuesday.
The loss left Everett (15-13), Yakima and Spokane all tied for first place in the North Division of the Northwest League, one game ahead of fourth-place Boise.
The winning rally began with a leadoff bunt single by Shane Victorino. An out later Victorino stole second and was awarded third on a balk by Everett relief pitcher John Butler (4-1).
The Sox intentionally walked two batters to load the bases and set up a force play at home. But Alvarez frustrated that strategy by lofting a ball to left, just deep enough for Victorino to tag and score.
Greg Bauer (1-0) pitched the last three innings for Yakima to earn the win.
Everett had the potential tying run at second base when the game ended on a called third strike. It was the 34th strikeout in the game, breaking the Northwest League record for strikeouts in a game by both teams. Each staff struck out 17.
Down to its last out, Everett temporarily snatched a victory away from Yakima on Brian Hertel’s 10th-inning home run to right.
The Bears had taken the lead in the top of the 10th on a two-out, bases-loaded infield hit by Alvarez, who also drove in Yakima’s first run with a home run in the sixth.
Early in the inning Yakima had runners at first and third with no one out. But Everett was on the verge of escaping the jam when Alvarez hit one into the dirt in front of home plate. The ball bounced so high the AquaSox infield had no play.
The 12th-inning balk helped Yakima score the winning run. Everett also contributed to Yakima’s run in the 10th. A catchable ball went for a double to start the inning. Then pitcher Steve Kent tried for an out at third on a bunt instead of taking the sure out at first.
"We opened the door," said Everett manager Terry Pollreisz, who was back with the club for his first game since attending the funeral of his father in Oregon.
Yakima threatened to take the lead in the top of the ninth. Alvarez led off with a double. But the Bears failed to execute the sacrifice bunt. Alvarez eventually reached third with two outs on a groundout. But Everett relief pitcher Rett Johnson struck out Ryan Dacey to strand the runner.
The AquaSox had the potential go-ahead run in scoring position in the eighth. Jamal Strong drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a one-out single by Wilfredo Quintana. But Yakima reliever Nial Hughes retired Blake Bone and Mark Carroll on pop ups.
"We had some missed opportunities," Pollreisz said. "We didn’t execute on offense.’
Everett tied the score off Yakima reliever Greg Withelder, who was making his first appearance, in the sixth. Strong drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on a double by Hertel.
It was the first run the AquaSox have scored for pitcher Sam Walton in his last 211/3 innings.
Yakima’s Alvarez broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, solo home run to left in the top of the sixth inning.
The Bears got their first two batters on in the top of the fifth inning. Derek Michealis led off with a single to center and was safe at second on Dacey’s fielder’s choice bunt.
But Michealis was called out at third on Kevin Covington’s sacrifice attempt and Walton struck out the next two batters to defuse the situation.
Yakima starting pitcher Jose Rojas retired the first 10 batters he faced. He struck out the 11th, too, but that batter, Hertel, reached on a wild pitch.
An out later, Bone notched Everett’s first hit, a single to right. But Rojas tallied his seventh strikeout to end the inning.
Walton retired the first eight Yakima batters in order before giving up a single to left to the No. 9 hitter, Covington. Yakima’s Victorino followed with an infield single and Koyie Hill walked to load the bases. But Walton got Brennan King to pop up to second.
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