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Zunino's big night, bullpen lift AquaSox to 5-3 win

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Herald staff
YAKIMA -- The Everett AquaSox did their part.
The Eugene Emeralds were not so accommodating.
Everett wasn't quite able to clinch a Northwest League playoff berth Thursday, despite beating the Yakima Bears 5-3.
The Sox could have clinched the West Division's first-half title and a trip to the postseason had they won and Eugene lost to Boise. However, Eugene defeated Boise 2-1 to keep its slim hopes alive. With four games remaining in the first half, Everett needs either one win or one loss by Eugene to secure first place.
Mike Zunino, the Seattle Mariners top draft pick this year, went 3-for-5 with two doubles, and Everett's bullpen combined to throw five scoreless innings as the Sox improved their record to 25-9.
Yakima, which already has clinched the East Division's first-half crown, was led by Shaun Cooper and Joe Loftus, who each had two hits. The Bears dropped to 20-14.
Everett staged the winning rally in the top of the seventh inning.
With the scored tied 3-3 and one out Zunino doubled to center, then came around to score on two wild pitches by Yakima reliever Blake Forslund. Marcus Littlewood later lined a double over the head of right fielder Joe Loftus, scoring Alfredo Morales from second to give the Sox a 5-3 lead.
That was enough for Everett's bullpen. Brandon Plotz, who tossed three scoreless innings, earned the win. Oliver Garcia and Matt Vedo each added one scoreless frame, with Vedo picking up the save.
Everett starting pitcher Steven Ewing tiptoed through a minefield. The left-hander gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in four innings, striking out three as he finished with a no decision.
Yakima starter Daniel Watts came into the game with a league-leading earned run average of 0.96. The Sox scored three runs against Watts in five innings off eight hits and two walks. However, Watts' ERA actually went down as all three runs were unearned. He struck out four.
The Bears got on the scoreboard in the second inning. Yakima loaded the bases with nobody out, with Sox third baseman Patrick Kivlehan and left fielder Jamodrick McGruder both making diving attempts to catch balls hit their way and both coming up just short. Second baseman Ketel Marte made a leaping snag of Mark Ginther's liner to prevent runs scoring.
But Everett couldn't continue to hold back the Bears. One run scored on Josh Parr's sacrifice fly and a second scored on a wild pitch. Marte made a diving stop on Daniel Poma's grounder to end the inning and limit the damage to 2-0.
The Sox mirrored the Bears in the third, also loading the bases with nobody out and also emerging with two runs. The first run scored when Zunino bounced into a double play that allowed McGruder to score from third. Kivlehan hit an infield single that brought home Chris Taylor to make it 2-2.
Everett took the lead in the fourth. With two out, McGruder walked and Taylor followed by lining a ball to left field. Cooper in left tried to make a sliding catch, but the ball bounced off his glove and was ruled an error. McGruder motored around the bases and slid home just ahead of the throw, giving Everett a 3-2 lead.
Ewing then lost his command in the bottom of the fourth. The Bears loaded the bases with nobody out on a single, a hit batter and a walk. Ewing then walked Parr, the No. 9 batter, on four pitches to force in the tying run. But Ewing escaped when he got a called third strike on Poma and got Kevin Medrano to bounce back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play, and the score stayed 3-3.
Story tags » AquaSox

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