Venegas pitches Sox past Emeralds

EVERETT – The Everett AquaSox’s hot start heated things up on a chilly night at Everett Memorial Stadium Thursday night.

Everett scored three runs in the first inning and the Sox defeated the Eugene Emeralds 4-1 in a Northwest League game played in front of 2,856 fans on Silvertips Night.

The Sox got six shutout innings from starting pitcher Alfredo Venegas (3-3).

The right-hander from Ecuador walked none and struck out a season-high nine batters, including Northwest League co-Most Valuable Player Luis Durango twice.

Durango did get his 101st hit of the season, which set an Emeralds single-season record.

Everett scored its three first-inning runs on three hits and an error by Emeralds shortstop Lance Zawadski.

With two on and two out in the first, Everett’s Kalian Sams singled to left, scoring Edilio Colina from second base for the first run of the game.

Welington Dotel followed with a double off the wall in right-center scoring Manelik Pimentel from second and Sams would trot home on a wild pitch by Eugene starter Jeremy Hefner to give Everett a 3-0 edge.

Hefner (2-4) went four innings, allowing three runs all unearned and striking out four.

Everett struck out seven times Thursday, closing in on the club’s 1996 single-season record of 738 strikeouts in a season. The AquaSox sit at 733 with six games remaining.

Everett would tack on an insurance run in the fifth on Zawadski’s second error of the night a throw that went past first baseman Robert Blauer scoring Colina from second.

Colina finished 1-for-4 with two runs scored, Sams finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and Gregory Halman was 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.

Everett got a scare in the eighth inning when relief pitcher Ryan Moorer walked a batter and then hit back-to-back hitters with two outs in the inning.

Bryan Harris, who recorded his seventh save of the season, relieved Moorer and gave up a single to Yefri Carvajal scoring Brad Chalk from third.

Kellen Kulbacki also tried to score on Carvajal’s single, but left fielder Jermaine Brock’s throw was on the money and catcher Blake Ochoa tagged Kulbacki out at the plate to end the inning.

The Sox (32-38) took two of three from the Emeralds (32-38) and moved into a tie for third in the division.

Note: Tonight’s game starts at 7:35 p.m.; gates open at 6:30 p.m. The reason for the late start is to avoid traffic and parking conflicts with the Snohomish-Cascade high school football game that starts at 5 p.m. at Everett Memorial Stadium.

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