PASCO — The Everett AquaSox nearly blew a big lead Thursday night.
Mario Martinez made sure they didn’t, and as a result the Sox matched a piece of history.
Martinez’s two-run double in the top of the ninth snapped a tie, and the Sox defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils 8-6 for their eighth straight victory.
The eight-game winning streak matches the longest in Everett history. In 1985, the then-Everett Giants also won eight straight.
“We’ve just been executing real well,” Everett manager John Tamargo said. “When we’ve had opportunities to score, we’ve been very fortunate to take advantage of them. As far as our pitching, we’ve been outstanding.”
With the win Everett (14-6) kept pace with Salem-Keizer for first place in the Northwest League’s West Division. Salem-Keizer, which beat Yakima 11-0 Thursday, remains one game up on the Sox.
Everett built an early 6-0 lead in the first game of the five-game series versus the East Division leaders, only to watch the Dust Devils crawl all the way back to tie it at 6-6 going into the ninth.
However, the Sox redeemed themselves in the top of the ninth. Singles by Anthony Phillips and Hawkins Gebbers, on either side of Ryan Royster’s sacrifice bunt, put runners at the corners with one out. Martinez then stepped in and lined a shot down the left-field line. Both Phillips and Gebbers came around to score to give the Sox a two-run lead. It was Martinez’s second big hit of the game as he also had a two-run triple in the first inning.
Andrew Carraway made sure the lead held up, setting down all three batters he faced to record his first save as a professional.
Bo Bowman smacked a three-run home run to lead Tri-City (13-7).
Everett jumped all over Tri-City starter Rob Scahill right out of the gate as the first four batters of the game all reached base. Ryan Royster led off the game by rolling a single up the middle and Hawkins Gebbers walked. Martinez followed by ripping a triple into the right-center gap to score both runners. Martinez scored on Gerardo Avila’s single as the Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
The Sox then put another three runs on the board in the third, again with the top of Everett’s lineup doing the damage. Royster led off with a walk and Gebbers singled to put runners at the corners. Martinez then grounded a ball to third that Joe Sanders threw away trying to throw out Royster at home. Avila and Juan Fuentes followed with RBI singles as the lead stretched to 6-0.
It seemed the Sox were well on their way toward history, but the Dust Devils had other ideas. First they scored three in the fourth to get back into it. Sanders and Austin Rauch each had RBI singles, and a third run scored on Gebbers’ error at second base as the lead shrunk to 6-3.
Then the Dust Devils got all the way back in the fifth, Bowman driving a three-run homer down the right-field line to tie it up.