EVERETT — It was duck-and-cover time at Everett Memorial Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Everett AquaSox and the Yakima Bears were in a deadly slugging mood, and in a contest where no pitcher was safe the Sox outpowered the Bears 15-14.
Gerardo Avila led the Everett charge by driving in six runs — including a grand slam home run — as more balls left the yard and peppered the wall than did during pregame batting practice.
But Avila was far from alone in a game where both teams combined for 39 hits. Everett’s Juan Fuentes went 4-for-5, and the Sox (10-6) scored in every inning but the sixth as they stretched their winning streak to four.
“Today we battled the whole game, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, just hoping to get the win,” said Avila, who came a single away from hitting for the cycle. “That’s what it’s all about, winning the game and doing the little things.”
Everett’s efforts somehow rendered a three-homer game by Yakima’s Brent Greer null. The Bears (7-9) also squandered big games from Ryan Wheeler (5-for-5 with a homer) and Clayton Conner (a homer and five RBI).
Nineteen of the game’s 39 hits went for extra bases, and every single player who came to the plate had at least one hit except for Yakima’s Tyrell Worthington, who only batted once as a pinch hitter.
“I don’t know what to say about that game,” said Greer, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 14th-round pick in this year’s draft out of Western Carolina University. “Twenty hits for both teams, both came out swinging. I didn’t think the pitching was that bad, but both teams came out ready to swing it.”
In a four-hour game which would have made baseball purists cringe, only one pitcher was able to rise above the fray. Everett reliever Brandon Pullen was the only pitcher among the game’s 10 who was effective, and he deservedly earned the win after striking out five in two scoreless innings. He’s now 2-0.
Daniel Cooper survived Greer’s third homer in the top of the ninth to record the save, his fourth.
Everett scored what ended up being the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth when Jose Rivero motored home from second on Ryan Royster’s single to right-center, making it 15-13. That provided the insurance needed to withstand Greer’s ninth-inning bomb as Everett won a game that somehow managed to remain close the entire way, despite the 29 runs.
Those 29 runs eclipsed by two the previous season high for runs in a game involving Everett. A total of 27 were scored in Everett’s 18-9 loss to Spokane at home on June 24.
“Pretty much everybody had the right approach,” Avila said. “I heard from other people that this year’s team is making better adjustments than last year’s team. I think we’ve got more experience this year, guys who can make adjustments from one day to another. To me that’s the key.”
Everett starting pitcher Taylor Lewis was the unlikely first victim of the carnage. Lewis was strong in each of his first three starts for the Sox, going six innings and picking up the win in each. But he was roughed up for eight runs in 31/3 innings. The seven hits he surrendered included two homers and two doubles.
The offensive tone of the game was set early as Greer and Wheeler homered on back-to-back pitches in the top of the first inning to stake Yakima to a 2-0 lead.
But that was just the beginning of a topsy-turvy game during which either the lead changed hands or the score was tied five times. Greer’s second homer, a three-run shot in the top of the fourth, put the Bears ahead 8-6, only for Avila’s grand slam in the bottom half of the inning to pull the Sox back ahead by two.
It looked like Everett may have done enough to maintain the lead when the Sox went ahead 13-8 in the bottom of the fifth, thanks in large part to Avila’s two-run triple. But the Bears rallied for five in the top of the sixth to tie it again, Clayton’s three-run homer providing the biggest blow.
Pullen then came in to calm things down, and Everett regained the lead in the eighth when pinch hitter Israel Nunez grounded an RBI single past a diving Greer at short.