EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox spoiled Christian Bergman’s bid for a piece of Northwest League history.
And once Bergman’s drive for minor-league immortality was over, the Sox opened the floodgates.
Bergman’s attempt to set a new league record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched came crashing to a halt at the hands of Everett, and the Sox went on to beat the Tri-City Dust Devils 6-3 Sunday afternoon.
Bergman came into the game with a string of 302/3 straight scoreless frames. The league record for longest scoreless streak is 32 innings held jointly by Eugene’s Larry Loughlin and Joseph Carboni, who both accomplished the feat in the 60s. Bergman needed less than two clean innings to break a record that has stood for nearly 50 years.
But a day game at Everett Memorial Stadium, when the ball tends to carry, is a difficult setting for a scoreless streak, and the Sox gave Bergman just one out before ending the streak in emphatic fashion. Jharmidy De Jesus did the honors of shutting the streak down with an RBI single high off the wall in right-center. Then the next batter, Jabari Blash, sent a high fly to right that initially appeared routine, but just kept carrying until it dropped over the wall for a three-run homer.
Everett tacked on two more runs by the time Bergman would have equaled the record, but by then no one was keeping track of zeroes any more. Bergman settled down after that and finished his outing with four scoreless innings, but by then it was too late.
“We were aware (of the streak),” said Sox center fielder Nathan Melendres, who started the rally with a single and scored the streak-ending run. “That gave us a bit of a boost going into the game. We wanted to make sure we got rid of that real quick.”
Indeed, Sox manager Scott Steinmann made sure his team was aware of Bergman’s streak before the game.
“We kind of let that cat out of the bag,” Steinmann said. “Whether that helped or not, we put up five runs in the first inning. The way they came out swinging the bat is great.
“You don’t want any records set on you,” Steinmann added with a grin.
Marcus Littlewood homered for the second straight game and finished with three hits as Everett (12-7 second half, 28-29 overall) ended up winning the five-game series between Northwest League division leaders 3-2. That seemed an unlikely prospect after the Sox were drubbed 18-7 in the opener.
“I’m real proud with the way the guys bounced back,” Steinmann said. “They bounced back the second day, then the last two games with the W, they’ve just done a great job. I’m very proud with how they keep competing.”
Everett starting pitcher Bennett Whitmore, whose struggles at home earlier this season were well documented, turned in his second straight quality start at Everett Memorial Stadium. He allowed three runs on four hits and one walk in six innings, striking out four to improve to 4-5.
Nolan Diaz tossed two scoreless innings of relief, then Tim Griffin pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season.
Tyler Massey homered for the second straight game and Brian Humphries poked a pair of doubles to lead Tri-City (12-7, 34-23).
Everett wasted no time ending the streak. Bergman struck out Littlewood to open the game, but the Sox then put together four consecutive hits, with Blash’s team-leading ninth homer of the season completing the string to give Everett a 4-0 lead.
While Bergman’s streak ended quickly, Whitmore was putting zeroes of his own on the board. The Dust Devils ended Whitmore’s shutout bid in the third when Humphries ripped an RBI double off the wall in center. But when the next batter Timothy Smalling tried to follow suit, Melendres made a tremendous running, leaping snag to keep Everett’s lead at 6-1 and allow Whitmore to put a couple more zeroes on the board.