EVERETT — Trent Tingelstad had to go back to his glory days with Marysville Little League to remember his last walk-off home run.
About a decade later, Tingelstad replicated that feeling, crushing a two-run homer over the fence in right field in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the AquaSox to a 6-4 win over Hillsboro on Tuesday at Funko Field.
“It felt great,” Tingelstad said with a wide smile. “It’s definitely up there as (one of his best baseball moments). … It feels amazing to execute. I always think about it when I’m up there in the ninth, and to finally execute one, it feels nice.”
After Patrick Frick singled up the middle to lead off the inning, Tingelstad barrelled up a 2-1 offering off a wood pole holding up the protective netting behind the outfield fence.
“Just all day they worked me low-and-away, so I tried to see a fastball up in the zone where I could drive it and do damage with (it),” Tingelstad said. “I finally got a fastball that I could do damage with and it felt great to execute and put one off the barrel.”
Tingelstad’s first professional season has been steady, with the Marysville Pilchuck High Schoolproduct demonstrating superb plate discipline mixed with burgeoning power at the plate. His 41 walks lead the Northwest League and his four homers are tied for the second most on team, along with Robert Perez Jr., Miguel Perez and Cash Gladfelter.
The AquaSox held a 4-2 lead for a majority of the game. Hillsboro chipped away with Daniel Wasinger’s RBI double off Tim Elliott in the seventh and eventually tied the game on Joe Gillette’s solo homer off Fred Villareal in the ninth.
Frick kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first with a RBI single to center field to put the AquaSox up 1-0.
Frick, who finished 3-for-5 with an RBI, has raised his batting average 121 points since it reached its lowest point at .178 on July 6. Since the second half of the season started July 22, Frick has posted a slash line of .406/.494/.507 in 18 games.
He’s also flashed elite contact skills. He entered Tuesday with a team-low 5% swing-and-miss rate.
“It doesn’t matter the count, it doesn’t matter if he’s got two strikes, his confidence remains the same and his body language remains the same,” Boyd said. “He goes out there and finds a way to get a barrel to the ball and he finds hits all over the field.”
Perez Jr. clubbed his fourth homer of the year, a three-run shot to center field in the first, to put Everett up 4-0.
After a respectable campaign as an 18-year-old in Triple-A Tacoma, where Perez Jr. hit .250 with three homers in 19 games, he’s scuffled in Short season-A by just hitting .201 in 35 games since joining the AquaSox.
But he’s turned it around over his past six games, hitting .409 with two doubles, a homer and six RBI over that stretch.
Boyd said he’s improved his “self talk”, which has led to increased success at the plate.
“It’s been a complete mindset change,” Boyd said. “He’s going out there saying (to himself) that he’s a bad man. He’s a bad, bad man. He’s going up there with that mentality and really buying into it and believing in it, and when he does that, he is a bad man. He’s got the raw power that you look for in a prospect. When he’s on time to the fastball and he recognizes breaking pitches that are up in the zone … the sky is the limit for him.”
Villarreal (1-0) picked up the win after allowing one run on one hit over two innings.
Erin Baldwin (3-2) was handed the loss after allowing four hits, including the game-winning home run, over 1.1 innings.
The AquaSox (9-10) are 1.5 games back of Tri-City and Spokane for first place in the Northwest League’s second-half North Division standings, with both team’s results pending from Tuesday.
Since Spokane won the first half, Everett only needs to pass Tri-City in the standings to clinch a playoff spot. The second-half playoff spot is awarded to the team with the second-best record in the standings during the second half if a team wins both halves.
Tri-City begins a key three-game series with the AquaSox on Wednesday, with Felix Hernandez making a rehab start for Everett.
Josh Horton covers the AquaSox for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter @joshhortonEDH.