By John McDonald
EVERETT – What hold do the Vancouver Canadians have over the Everett AquaSox?
Whatever it is, it has the Frog pitchers baffled.
Vancouver scored in double digits for the second straight game and beat the AquaSox for the eighth time in as many meetings this season, 12-6 Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“They’ve played good baseball against us,” AquaSox outfielder Jason VanMeetren said, “but they’re not that much better than us.
“Hopefully, we can win the last few games and make a series out of it.
“It’s not a fluke, they’re playing good baseball against us.”
The Canadians, who are hitting .239 against the league, are batting .302 against Sox pitching.
They had 12 hits each of the last two nights. Add in six walks and two hit batters and you have a recipe for disaster.
“I don’t know how many we walked, but you’ve got to throw strikes and make them put the ball in play,” AquaSox manager Terry Pollreisz said. “They’re getting too many on base, too easily.
“We have to consistently throw in the zone and make good pitches. That’s what you have to do against this club. They’re a patient team.”
With the victory, their third straight, the Canadians (35-37) passed the Frogs into second place in the West Division standings of the Northwest League.
Everett (34-37) must win its final four games against the Canadians in order to finish the season with a winning record.
The Canadians picked up where they left off Friday, when they scored 11 runs on 12 hits, batting around in the first, The rally produced five runs, all scored off AquaSox starter Phil Cullen (1-4).
Christian Reyes and Dan Johnson had back-to-back, one-out singles followed by a walk to Jason Basil. Cullen hit Casey Myers to force in a run. An out later, Joe Cirone cleared the bases with a double.
With his back to the infield after a close play at the plate, AquaSox catcher Emmanuel Santana forgot about Cirone and he took third, later scoring on a single by Andy Nuefeld.
The AquaSox got three runs right back in the bottom half of the inning. Jose Lopez led off with a walk and Everett loaded the bases on back-to-back, one-out singles by Orlando Hernandez and Santana. Lopez scored and the other two runners moved up a base on a groundout by Alejandro Cadena. Chris Collins followed with a two-run single to center.
Vancouver threatened to stage another uprising in the third, loading the bases with one out thanks to two walks wrapped around a single. But the AquaSox kept their deficit at two runs, turning a double play when outfielder John Williamson threw out a runner at home after a fly out to right.
Everett then trimmed the deficit to one in the bottom half of the inning. Jason Rainey and Hernandez opened the inning with consecutive singles and Rainey scored as Santana grounded into a double play.
Vancouver quickly retaliated. Brian Rooke was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth. He stole second and scored on a single by J.T. Stotts.
Stotts also stole second and Reyes walked before Johnson crushed a home run over the scoreboard in right.
By the time his start was over, Cullen had faced 24 batters and 15 had reached base. Every Canadian batter reached base at least once against Cullen and six reached twice.
Vancouver got sloppy in the fifth, allowing the AquaSox a pair of unearned catch-up runs. With two outs and VanMeetren at first via a leadoff single, Stotts booted Hernandez’s grounder to short for an error. The runners took second and third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Santana.
But Johnson hit another towering home run over the scoreboard in the sixth. And Rooke singled, took second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Vancouver added a second unearned run in the eighth when the AquaSox let a pop up drop in the infield for a two-base error.