EVERETT — On a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, the ball was flying out of Funko Field.
The only problem for the Everett AquaSox? It was almost exclusively to the other team’s benefit.
Tri-City’s Jordy Barley and Sean Guilbe each clubbed two homers and the Dust Devils outmuscled the AquaSox with six homers in a 12-9 victory.
“Our offense competed,” Everett manager Louis Boyd said. “That’s all we can ask for. We put nine runs on the board and made some mistakes on the mound and on the infield, but at the end of the day, our offense scored nine runs, had some good at-bats, so that’s OK.”
A night after serving up four home runs against Tri-City — albeit three of those were with position players on the mound, Everett’s pitching staff struggled to keep the ball in the park on Sunday, especially reliever Deivy Florido, who offered up five roundtrippers.
Limiting the long ball will be an emphasis for Everett’s pitching staff moving forward, says Boyd.
“Our pitchers were really good when they were down in the zone today,” Boyd said. “For whatever reason they were missing up more than often and in a ballpark like this where the wind is blowing slightly out and it’s only 357 to center field, you have to be really, really conscious of your location, and we missed too many pitches up tonight.”
The Dust Devils opened it up in the sixth, as Barley, Reinaldo Ilarraza and Kelvin Melean hit back-to-back-to-back homers in a four-run inning to open up a 10-7 lead.
Miguel Perez launched a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the frame to cut the lead to one.
But the Dust Devils added a run on Cesar Izturis Jr.’s throwing error in the seventh and another on Guilbe’s second homer of the night in the ninth to build the lead back up to three.
George Kirby, the Seattle Mariners’ first-round draft pick (20th overall) in the 2019 MLB draft, allowed his first earned run of his professional career in the first inning. Barley singled and a throwing error on a pick-off attempt allowed him to advance to scoring position and two subsequent groundouts brought him home.
Kirby settled in after that, allowing only the one run over three innings and throwing a career-high 45 pitches.
“(It went) great,” Kirby said. “I had a little mistake there picking the guys off, but I thought I battled back pretty well. I thought it went pretty well, the one error kind of caught me and it sucks, but overall I thought it went pretty well.”
The AquaSox hung three runs in both of the opening innings.
Robert Perez mashed a three-run homer in the first to start it off. Carter Bins was hit by a pitch to lead off the second, DeAires Moses chopped a double down the right-field line and Patrick Frick’s slicing fly ball to center field was dropped by Ilarraza to allow a run to score. Connor Hoover brought in Moses on a sacrifice fly to right and a wild pitch from Tri-City starter Ignacio Feliz allowed Frick to score.
Tri-City knotted it at 6-6 in the fourth, as Guilbe homered to left-center, Carlos Luis, Alison Quintero and Kelvin Alarcon — the Dust Devil’s seven, eight and nine hitters — ripped off consecutive doubles and Barley deposited a two-run homer to left-center.
Hoover whacked a double to center field to pull Everett ahead, 7-6, but that was the last lead the AquaSox would enjoy.
For a silver lining
Robert Perez and Miguel Perez each came in with some struggles — Robert Perez was hitting .172 entering Sunday and Miguel Perez was hitting .178.
Hitting one out could be a big confidence boost to both, according to Boyd.
“Whenever they’re on time to the fastball, they do damage and that’s what we’re trying to stress to them on a daily basis,” he said. “When they do that, like you saw tonight, good things happen.”
— All four teams in the Northwest League North Division are tied in the second half with identical 3-3 records after Everett and Spokane both lost on Sunday.
—Right-hand pitcher Juan Mercedes is receiving an MRI after leaving Saturday’s game with an injury, according to Boyd.
—Reliever Garrett Westberg, who also left Saturday’s game with an injury, should be available moving forward after a brief scare, per Boyd.
—After hitting 11 home runs in their previous 42 games entering Saturday, Tri-City matched that in the last two games against the AquaSox.