EVERETT — With one swing of the bat Eugene Helder played hero for the AquaSox.
After squandering an early 3-0 lead, Everett tied the game in the game bottom of the eighth, and with runners at first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Helder sent a lazy fly ball over the head of Eugene second baseman Jhonny Bethencourt. Austin Grebeck sprinted around third and slide safely into home, giving the Frogs a dramatic 5-4 walk-off win over Eugene on Monday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The win was the first home walkoff for Everett (17-16 second half, 34-37 overall) this summer.
Chris Torres led off the bottom of the first with a double off the right-center field wall and later came around to score on a Greifer Andrade RBI groundout to give the AquaSox a 1-0 lead.
The AquaSox extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a Joe Venturino double. The Frogs second baseman hit a soft liner over Eugene third baseman Austin Filere’s head, and an errant throw into second allowed David Banuelos to score all the way from first. Venturino later scored on a wild pitch with two outs, giving Everett a 3-0 advantage.
Eugene trimmed its deficit to 3-1 in the top of the fifth but reliever Chris Castellanos limited the damage by striking out Bethencourt with two outs and a runner at third.
A Miguel Amaya RBI groundout in the top of the sixth cut Everett’s lead to 3-2, and one batter later Gustavo Polanco squared up a Castellanos pitch and sent a ball towering over the right-center field wall to tie the game at 3-3.
Bethencourt gave the Emeralds their first lead of the game with a two-out RBI single up the middle that put Eugene in front 4-3 in the top of the seventh.
Eugene reliever Keegan Thompson’s work on the mound was paramount in the comeback. The hard-throwing righty struck out seven in three scoreless innings. At one point, eight of nine Everett hitters struck out spanning the final out of the fifth through the first out of the eighth. In all, Everett struck out 13 times.
The Frogs tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eight courtesy of three wild pitches by Eugene pitcher Luis Aquino. Juan Camacho hit a one-out, line-drive single to center, and he slowly made his way around the bases before scoring with two outs.
Helder sealed the thrilling win with a clutch walkoff single.