EVERETT — Nick Rodriguez began Sunday’s game on the Everett AquaSox bench.
When the contest ended, he was high-fiving his teammates as the game’s hero after he hit the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Frogs knocked off the Salem-Keizer Volcanos 7-6 before 3,089 fans Sunday at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“I know they always say that — to always be ready,” said Rodriguez, who entered the game for Jansiel Rivera in the top half of the fourth inning after Rivera fanned for the second time. “You’re going to come in more times than not and I just think being ready was the key today.”
The right-handed Rodriguez drove a hanging slider over the fence in right center with Ryan Garcia aboard as the Sox (16-14) took the lead for good at 7-6.
“I saw he missed a first-pitch fastball and I haven’t seen a lot of fastballs this whole series,” Rodriguez said. “I figured he’d leave something up and I was looking for it.”
Rodriguez also doubled in his first at-bat in the fifth as Everett won its third straight to take four of five from Salem-Keizer (15-15). The AquaSox now lead the Northwest League North Division standings. Vancouver, which entered the game tied with Everett, fell 6-2 at Boise Sunday.
“Going into this eight-game homestand it was kind of tough — we had a tough stretch on the road,” Rodriguez said. “But we’ll be back on the road in a few days and I think this is some good momentum to have.”
S-K’s Joey Bart had broken a 5-5 deadlock with a towering home run to left field in the top of the seventh inning. It was the seventh home run for Bart, the No. 2 pick in this year’s major-league draft, in just nine NWL games.
The Frogs faced an early 4-0 deficit as Jheyson Caraballo — who has been Everett’s most reliable starter — lasted just two innings.
Jose Layer led off the game with a triple off the wall in left-center field, and Kyle McPherson followed with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Ricarado Genoves led off the second inning with a single up the middle and scored when McPherson tripled two outs later. McPherson scored on a wild pitch, then Diego Rincones walked and scored from first on an RBI double by Bart as Salem-Keizer stretched its lead to 4-0.
“(Caraballo) looked like he was a little bit out of rhythm,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said. “He was having a hard time trying to locate his fastball. He’s a changeup, breaking ball type (of pitcher). He tries to go around the corners. He wasn’t able to because he was behind in the count so that was tough for him.”
Everett cut the deficit to a single run in the bottom the third. Charlie McConnell led off with his first career home run, to right-center. Connor Kopach then reached on a throwing error, and two outs later Garcia blasted his third home run of the season to right-center to make it 4-3.
The Frogs took the lead with three straight two-out hits in the bottom of the fourth. Cash Gladfelter singled and scored on an RBI single by Ryan Ramiz, and Josh Stowers singled in Kopach for a 5-4 advantage.
Jose Layer’s solo home run tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth, and Bart’s homer gave Salem-Keizer its final lead.
Ulises Perez pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings to keep Everett in the game. Penn Murfee and Jamal Wade (1-1) each gave up a run before Nolan Hoffman pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth for his first save.
“It was real good to bounce back,” Moreno said. “We had a tough start with Caraballo and after that the bullpen did a real good job to keep us in the game. Of course, we had really good at-bats, solid contact and a good response. They score, we score back, and that’s something we want from our players.”
Ramiz finished with two hits, including a double. Kopach and Garcia each scored two times.
The AquaSox open a three-game series against Spokane at 7:05 p.m. Monday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.