Walk-off win highlights tough series for AquaSox

Dariel Gomez helped Everett end a lengthy losing streak with his game-winning hit Friday.

Charlie Welch

Charlie Welch

The 2022 Northwest League season is still in its infant stages, but for the Everett AquaSox the moment was nonetheless worthy of a water-cooler dousing.

The Sox ended their lengthy losing streak in dramatic fashion when Dariel Gomez’s walk-off single gave Everett a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Dust Devils last Friday at Funko Field.

Everett came into the game desperate for a victory, having lost six straight, including the first three games of its six-game series against the Dust Devils. Then, after leading 2-0 through most of the game, the Sox found themselves trailing 3-2 heading into the ninth following a three-run, two-out rally by Tri-City in the top of the seventh.

But Everett did what it needed to do in the bottom of the ninth, as James Parker, Victor Labrada and Charlie Welch all walked on three-two pitches to bring Gomez to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. After fouling off the first pitch, Gomez grounded the second one to right for a single to end the game.

“Those (walks) were all unbelievable at-bats,” Everett manager Eric Farris said. “Guys got deep on counts and had to battle with two strikes. When you put at-bats together and make a pitcher feel like it’s nine versus one, it can really do damage in those tough situations late in games. Piling those walks together really put pressure on the pitcher and gave Dariel a chance to win the game.”

The importance of the victory was not lost on Everett’s players, who sprinted out of the dugout to congratulate Gomez. That included a pair of Sox with a water cooler, who chased Gomez around the outfielder as Gomez tried to avoid being drenched.

“We had a lot of close games where we were on the losing end, so getting a win and going home that night on a high was really important,” Farris said. “The boys needed it. Wins like that can get you re-energized and hopefully lead to better play moving forward,”

Everett finished the series 2-4 against the Dust Devils. The series ended in ugly fashion for Everett as the Sox fell 18-2 to Tri-City in Sunday’s finale.

“Obviously we didn’t get the outcome (in the series) that we necessarily wanted,” Farris said. “But I think a lot of positives came out of the the series. We were in a lot of tight games, outside of (Sunday). The boys were able to respond in some tough situations, pitchers were able to throw strikes in some difficult jams, and a lot of good things were happening offensively in terms of getting on base and giving ourselves a chance to win games. I think we’ll see growth in a short time.”

Overall Everett is 5-9 and in sixth place in the six-team league.

Players of the week

Hitter: Welch. Welch, a catcher, may be a part-time player for the Sox. But he made his presence felt every time he was in the lineup against the Dust Devils. In three games he went 5-for-10 with a double, two home runs, four runs and four RBI. He was also behind the plate for quality starts by pitchers Isaiah Campbell and Jimmy Joyce.

Pitcher: Bryce Miller. The hard-throwing right-hander had the pick of what was a number of quality starts by Everett pitchers as he threw six innings of one-hit ball in Friday’s victory. Miller, a fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft by the Seattle Mariners who’s ranked by MLB.com as Seattle’s 23rd-best prospect, allowed no runs, walked three and struck out five. For his efforts Miller was named the Northwest League Pitcher of the Week.

The week ahead

This week the Sox have their second consecutive home series as they welcome the Spokane Indians, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, to Funko Field for a six-games set. Spokane is 7-8 and tied for fourth in the league, 1.5 games ahead of Everett, so the Sox have a chance to climb out of the basement with a good series.

Spokane sports what MLB.com considers to be Colorado’s top two prospects. Outfielder Zac Veen (.386 on-base percentage, seven stolen bases) is considered the gem of the Rockies’ system, as the ninth-overall pick in the 2020 draft is ranked as the 35th-best prospect in all of baseball. Catcher Drew Romo (.351 batting average, 10 RBI) is ranked second among Colorado prospects by MLB.com, though he didn’t crack the top 100 overall. Left-handed starting pitcher Joe Rock (2-1, 1.59 ERA) is tied for second in the league in strikeouts with 21 in 17.0 innings pitched.

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