EVERETT — Time is running out on the Northwest League regular season and the Everett AquaSox remain in hot pursuit of a second-half playoff berth.
The AquaSox did their part Wednesday as they defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils 4-1 before 3,009 fans and several hundred dogs at “Bark in the Park” Night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Everett (11-10 second half, 18-21 overall) moved into a tie for third with Spokane for third place in the second half North Division standings and remain a game back of Tri-City (12-9, 20-19) for the second playoff berth. The Vancouver Canadians won the first-half title and are leading the second half standings.
Any potential fatigue from an 8:30 a.m. arrival back in Everett Wednesday morning following a five-game road trip to Boise wasn’t a factor.
The Frogs scored the game’s first three runs and never trailed in the first game of the crucial four-game set.
Everett starer Anjul Hernandez (2-2) was masterful in five innings of scoreless, five-hit baseball. Hernandez struck out seven and walked one in his best performance since being recalled from the Arizona Mariners on July 20.
The AquaSox scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning. Eugene Helder stroked a one-out single and Johnny Adams was hit by a pitch. Onil Pena hit a ground ball into the hole at short. Tri-City first baseman Bryant Aragon couldn’t handle the throw from shortstop Luis Almanzar, and Helder came around from second to score and give Everett the 1-0 lead.
The Frogs added two more in the fourth. Joe Venturino led off with an infield single and two outs later Chris Torres hit a long, two-run home run into the grassy berm in right field.
Trailing 3-0 against Everett reliever Michael Rivera, the Dust Devils threatened in the top of the seventh. Aragon led off with a walk and Jalen Washington doubled him home. Josh Magee walked, prompting AquaSox manager Jose Moreno to get David Ellingson out of the bullpen.
Ellingson hit Tyler Benson to load the bases, but escaped the jam with a lineout, a strikeout and a pop out to strand three Tri-City runners.
Adams’ two-out single in the seventh pushed the lead to 4-1.
Scott Kuzminsky pitched a perfect ninth for his third save of the season.
Game 2 of the series is tonight at 7:05 p.m.