EVERETT — When pinch-hitter Manelik Pimentel connected in the bottom of the ninth, it looked as though the Everett AquaSox may have climbed out of the well.
However, Pimentel’s drive came up just short, as did Everett’s furious comeback attempt.
With the tying run on third base, Pimentel flew out to the center-field wall to end the game, and the Yakima Bears held on to defeat the Sox 7-6 Sunday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Seemingly dead and buried going into the bottom of the ninth, the Sox rallied for two runs with two out, bringing Pimentel to the plate with two runners on.
On a 1-2 pitch Pimentel drove the ball to deep center. However, center fielder Collin Cowgill had just enough room to make the catch with his back against the wall and end the game.
“The ball looked like it was going to travel a little farther than that,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said. “But it looked like maybe the weather kept the ball inside the ballpark.”
Seeing the ball settle into Cowgill’s glove was a relief for Yakima manager Bob Didier, whose team nearly squandered a 5-0 lead after two innings.
“That right-center field, if it’s over 20 feet it’s either in the net or off the wall,” he said. “The game’s never over until you squeeze the last ball, and that shows the players what I’ve been saying the past three weeks.”
Sunday’s game was a wild one in every sense of the word. In addition to the wild finish, the Bears ran wild on the bases, swiping six bags, and the Sox were wild both on the mound and in the field, issuing seven free passes (six walks, one hit batter) and committing four errors.
Those errors led to three decisive unearned runs, and the Sox were unable to overcome the early deficit despite repeated bids to catch back up. The errors helped the Bears win despite being outhit 12-4.
“The good thing is we never gave up,” Moreno said. “We battled and we scored runs. Our defense was struggling a little bit today, but we battled and that was good to see.”
Everett right fielder Dennis Raben continued his onslaught on the Northwest League, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks and two RBI. In three professional games, the Seattle Mariners second-round pick is 8-for-10 with five extra-base hits.
Travis Howell also continued his hot hitting for Everett, going 2-for-5 with three RBI, and George Soto went 3-for-4.
However, it wasn’t enough for the Sox (8-12), who saw their American flag-inspired two-game winning streak come to an end. The Sox won the previous two games wearing jerseys featuring the flag and planned to continue wearing them until they lost.
The rubber game of the five-game series is tonight. Everett has yet to win a series this season, losing each of the first four by a single game.
T.J. Hose earned the win for Yakima (9-11), surviving a messy five innings. Jason Durst, who was brought in to get the final out, earned his second save.
Cowgill and Andrew Fie each had two stolen bases, and Alfredo Marte stole home on the back end of a double steal for the Bears, whose rampant running was part of the reason for Everett’s miscues. Three of Everett’s errors were throwing errors.
“Those are mistakes we’re going to make at this level,” Moreno said. “They ran the bases, but if we execute the right way we have no problem. We beat ourselves.”
After falling behind 5-0 after two innings, the Sox clawed back by scoring twice in both the third and fifth to pull within one.
However, a three-base throwing error by reliever Doug Salinas — who was nearly flawless for five innings except for the error — led to two more Yakima runs in the sixth.
In the ninth Everett looked done, a runner on first with two out. But Bryan Woodall walked the bases loaded before giving up a two-run single to Howell, setting the stage for Pimentel’s final attempt.