SEATTLE — The setting was unique, but the result was not.
The Everett AquaSox, who won more games than any other team during the Northwest League’s second half, completed a two-game sweep of the Spokane Indians in the North Division Series with an 8-0 win at Safeco Field.
“We’re a special team and when we click, we click,” right fielder Eric Filia said. “We can’t ask for anything better. Great coaching staff and all around we are brothers. We’re the ‘Knock Squad’ and they’re great. We love it.”
Wednesday’s rainout at Everett Memorial Stadium moved Game 1 to Spokane’s Avista Stadium and Game 2 to the home of the Seattle Mariners, the parent club of the AquaSox. It was the first time most of the AquaSox played at the stadium they hope to eventually call their everyday home.
With Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto in attendance, Nick Zammarelli drove in three runs, Kristian Brito and Donnie Walton each drove in two, and Walton and Bryson Brigman each had two hits as the AquaSox won their first playoff series since winning the league title in 2010.
Everett will play host to South Division champion Eugene at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Everett Memorial Stadium in the first game of the NWL Championship Series. The Emeralds defeated Hillsboro 2-1 Friday to win that series two games to one.
The Frogs broke the contest open with five runs in the top of the fifth. Everett took advantage of two walks and two Indians errors to score one run. Then Zammarelli laced a two-run double, and Brito followed with another two-run double that hit off the fence in left-center as the lead swelled to 7-0.
It proved more than enough for Everett starter Matt Festa (1-0), who scattered six hits and walked one while striking out four in seven shutout innings.
“After the first half (of the season) we all sat down together and talked about what the playoffs mean to us,” Festa said. “We’re all college guys and know what it’s like to get there, so we knew we could do it. But to be here is awesome. It makes the whole season worth it.”
Spokane’s best chance came in the top of the second. Filia went back to the right field fence and timed his leap perfectly to rob Seth Spivey of a home run leading off the inning to keep the game scoreless.
“Seth Spivey is a great hitter and he’s been killing us all year and he’s got a great swing,” Filia said. “He had a hitter’s count, he ran into it, I backed up right before that pitch and had a good bead on it. I made probably one of the best catches I’ve ever made.”
The AquaSox struck for two unearned runs in the bottom of the third to take a 2-0 lead. Austin Grebeck reached on an error to begin the inning, and two outs later scored on Brigman’s single to right. A walk to Filia loaded the bases, and Zammarelli followed with another walk to force in Walton for the second run.
“After we scored the first two runs off the board I just kind of settled in and got real relaxed,” Festa said. “I was really up-tempo the first few innings, but I knew I just had to go out there and pump strikes and just let everything loose.”
Just one of the five runs allowed by Spokane starter Kyle Cody was earned. Cody struck out three and allowed just two hits, but was done in by his defense and four walks.
Festa worked around a one-out walk and a two-out double to keep the shutout intact in the top of the third. He allowed only three combined base-runners in the next four innings before he was lifted for reliever Steven Moyers.
“It seemed like he didn’t use his breaking ball a whole lot the first time through the order and they squared some balls up and he made a real nice adjustment,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said. “He started getting his slider over for strikes and I think that was the difference.”
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