EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox remain in search of their first victory of the 2018 Northwest League season.
On Sunday, Everett Memorial Stadium’s short porch in right-center field twice confounded the AquaSox outfielders and the Hillboro Hops took advantage by scoring a run each time in a 3-2 victory before 3,559 sun-drenched fans on Father’s Day.
“Today the game was close,” said Everett manager Jose Moreno, whose team slipped to 0-3. “A little bit of confusion maybe on the play at the wall that we have in right-center. We have to get used to (that). And then try to get good at-bats with runners in scoring position.”
Tra’Mayne Holmes’ two-out RBI double off the wall in right-center broke a 2-2 tie and gave Hillsboro the lead in the top of the eighth inning. The ball hit near the base of the fence and appeared it could have been caught. Instead it scored Ryan Dobson who had reached on a two-out walk.
Holmes was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but the damage already was done.
It was also the second time the AquaSox outfield had struggled with the short fence. Hillsboro’s Francis Martinez led off the top of the second with a similar fly ball that hit near the base of the wall.
Martinez went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Tufts as the Hops took a 1-0 lead.
“It’s a read,” Moreno said. “Sometimes it looks like the ball is going to be over the fence and it’s a regular fly ball. That happened twice today and we have to make adjustments.”
Everett drew even in the bottom the second inning. Ronald Rosario reached on a one-out error and went to second base on a passed ball. Jack Anchia then drove in Rosario with a long single off the left-field wall to make it 1-1.
Connor Kopach’s solo home run over the right-centerfield fence gave Everett its first lead of the season at 2-1 in the bottom of the third.
Martin retied the game at 2-2 with a long home run to centerfield in the top of the fourth inning.
That was all for the scoring until the top of the eighth.
Everett brought the tying run to second base in the bottom of the ninth when Kopach reached on an infield single and advanced on an error with one out. However, Wesley Rodriguez retired the next two AquaSox hitters to preserve the victory and earn his second save of the season.
Kopach had a breakout professional debut Sunday. He finished 3-for-5 with a home run and a pair of infield singles while playing flawlessly at shortstop.
“He’s one of those kids that was ready to receive the opportunity to play,” Moreno said. “He’s a grinder and it looks like he’s a gamer. First time I’ve seen him play and I’m very happy with his effort.”
The AquaSox struggled to get timely hitting. The Frogs stranded 10 hitters and were 1-for-11 in with runners in scoring position.
“Right now we’re chasing pitches out of the strike zone and sometimes we’re taking a fastball for a strike right down the middle,” Moreno said. “We have to be aggressive with that pitch and try to stop swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.”
The loss sullied a strong effort from Everett starter Orlando Razo. The southpaw struck out five and scattered four hits in 5 2⁄3 innings.
“Real good — he mixes his pitches really well,” Moreno said. “His change and his breaking ball were working really good and I’m very happy with his effort.”
Everett and Hillsboro (3-0) play the fourth game of their five-game season-opening series at 7:05 p.m. today.