AquaSox moving up in league standings after series sweep

Everett, now in third place, did a little bit of everything on its way to outscoring Hillsboro 34-12 over 6 games.

Victor Labrada

Victor Labrada

It’s been a long time coming, but the Everett AquaSox finally find themselves climbing the Northwest League standings.

The Sox just completed their most successful series of the season to date, sweeping six games on the road against the Hillsboro Hops. As a result Everett is out of the league’s cellar for the first time since the season’s second week.

Everett, which extended its winning streak to a season-best seven games, is now 27-29. The Sox leapfrogged three teams to move into third place in the six-team NWL, 6.0 games behind first-place Eugene. That’s a far cry from a month ago, when Everett was a dismal 11-21 and 4.5 games behind the second-worst team in the league.

The Sox’s surge has largely been at Hillsboro’s expense. Everett has swept two straight series from the Hops, including a five-game home series from May 18-22, giving the Sox 11 straight victories over Hillsboro. Everett is 12-5 against the Hops and 15-24 against everyone else.

The Sox were well worth last week’s sweep of the Hops. Everett outscored Hillsboro 34-12, and the Sox trailed in just seven of the series’ 54 innings — Everett never trailed at all in four of the six contests. The Sox scored early and often, scoring eight runs in the top of first innings during the series.

Offensively, the Sox did their damage by getting on base. Everett drew an astonishing 44 walks in the series, which is a rate of 7.3 per game. That’s three more per game than the Sox averaged coming into the series, and Everett’s on-base percentage went up accordingly (.386 for the week vs. .322 previously).

However, the biggest difference came on the other side of the ball. Everett entered the series last in the league in runs allowed at 5.4 per game. The Sox allowed just 2.0 per contest last week against the Hops.

Much of that can be chalked up to the pitching, which held the Hops to a team batting average of .176 and compiled an impressive 56/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 54 innings.

But the defense chipped in as well as Everett was nearly flawless in the field. The Sox committed a mere two errors during the six games, whereas Everett had 51 miscues in its previous 50 games. The Sox allowed just one unearned run against the Hops last week versus 36 coming into the series.

Stars of the week

Hitter: Victor Labrada. Speaking of walking … Why, you might ask, would a player who batted .235 with no extra-base hits be considered the hitter of the week? That’s because the 22-year-old center fielder from Cuba walked an incredible 10 times in the six games, including drawing four free passes in last Wednesday’s 8-4 victory, giving him an on-base percentage of .519 for the week. Labrada’s impact-per-game may not have been as high as Andy Thomas’ (1.691 OPS), but Labrada made twice as many starts.

Pitcher: Prelander Berroa. The 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic went unscored upon in two starts, though he didn’t go deep enough in either game to qualify for the win. Last Tuesday he threw four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four, and Sunday he tossed another four scoreless frames, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out six.

The week ahead

Everett returns home this week for s six-game series against the Tri-City Dust Devils beginning Tuesday at Funko Field. Tri-City, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, is coming off a six-game home series against the Vancouver Canadians in which the Dust Devils went 4-2. Tri-City is now 25-28 and tied for fourth in the Northwest League, a half-game behind Everett. The Sox are 3-9 against the Dust Devils this season.

The Dust Devils have a pair of the Angels’ top prospects in shortstop Kyren Paris (.193, no homers, 12 RBI in 41 games), who is rated by as Los Angeles’ third-best prospect, and outfielder Jordyn Adams (.255, no homers, 17 RBI in 45 games), who is ranked sixth — though neither has solved Northwest League pitching yet. Tri-City has the league’s leading pitching staff, having compiled a team ERA of 3.26.

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