VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A slow leak, which initially sprung back in August when Salem-Keizer knocked the Everett AquaSox out of the postseason picture, has continued to drain their hope.
A goal to win 40 games vanished last week after the AquaSox were swept at home against Vancouver. And now, hopes of finishing the season with a redeeming second-place mark came crushing down after a 3-1 loss to Vancouver Tuesday on the road.
The AquaSox, who began the night 1/2-game behind Vancouver for second place in the Northwest League’s West Division, dropped to 35-39 with one game remaining and will finish the season in third place.
The second-place Canadians improved to 37-38.
Vancouver starting pitcher Rich Harden (2-4) baffled Everett batters by pitching seven shutout, hitless innings, while striking out 12 batters to earn the victory. The Victoria native retired 21-of-22 hitters. During one stretch of his seven innings of work, Harden struck out six consecutive hitters. A second-inning walk to Everett’s Orlando Hernandez dashed his hope of a no-hitter.
Vancouver’s Jorge Soto hit a towering two-run home run in the fourth inning off Everett starting pitcher Dan Head to give the Canadians a 3-0 lead. The long ball brought home Soto’s 21st and 22nd RBI. Vancouver got off to a quick start by taking a first-inning 1-0 lead. Third baseman Christian Reyes moved into scoring position after hitting a double to center field. He scored two batters later thanks to a single by Jason Basil.
Head, who scattered seven hits, dropped to 4-4 with the loss.
In keeping with fashion, however, the AquaSox, who have had their share of come-from-behind rallies, made a late-inning move. After collecting his second walk of the game, Hernandez scored the AquaSox’s only run in the eighth inning off a John Williamson triple to right field. Williamson was left stranded as the Canadians recorded three consecutive outs.
Defensively, the AquaSox committed three errors, one of which cost the AquaSox a run off the two-run homer in the fourth.
Throwin’ strikes: AquaSox pitcher Gustavo Martinez picked up the Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honors for his work during the week of Aug. 26 through Sept. 2. The official record keeper, SportsTicker, awarded the hard throwing right-hander for two impressive outings, which included 15 strikeouts and no earned runs in 13 innings pitched.
Martinez, who leads the league with 100 strikeouts, is tied for second place in Everett franchise history for most strikeouts in a season.