EVERETT – In the top of the 10th inning, Everett AquaSox outfielder Wellington Dotel came within a whisker of an outstanding diving defensive play. It was a terrific effort, but a gamble that nearly allowed Spokane to score the go-ahead run.
Instead the Indians were denied, and in the bottom of the 10th some similar aggressiveness by Dotel on the basepaths lifted the AquaSox to a 4-3 victory in the team’s home opener Tuesday.
Dotel doubled off the wall with one out in the 10th. He hurried to third on a wild pitch and scored on Anthony Phillips’ fly ball to center field.
“I’ll take that,” said Dotel, who also delivered a solo homer in the third inning. “When you’re trying to do the best for your team, I don’t care how you can win the game. Winning is winning. You have to help your team win any way you can.”
By scoring the winning run, Dotel became one of the game’s heroes. His defensive gamble in the top of the 10th, however, almost allowed the Indians to seize the lead.
Spokane’s Aja Barto led of the inning with a drive down the right-field line, and after a long run, Dotel made a diving try for the ball. Instead it nicked off his glove and bounced past him, which allowed Barto to dash around to third with a triple.
It could have been costly, but Barto ended up stranded at third. Against reliever Brad Reid, Spokane’s Vincent Difazio grounded out to shortstop Phillips, who checked the runner and threw to first for the out. Reliever Brandon Pullen then entered the game to strike out Spokane’s Clark Murphy and retire Alberto Puello on a check-swing grounder to first base.
The Sox were one out away from winning in the ninth inning, but Spokane’s Cody Podraza prolonged the game by drilling a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence.
Everett scored its first three runs on solo homers. In addition to Dotel’s blast, Kalian Sams drilled a pair.
The two teams combined for 22 strikeouts.
There was a frightening moment in the fifth inning when Spokane’s Shon Landry took a fastball in the batting helmet from Everett starter Chris Kirkland. Landry stayed on the ground in front of home plate for over a minute before being helped to his feet. He stayed in the game, and moments later stole second base.