EVERETT – In their biggest game of the season the AquaSox produced a near-perfect performance, and Everett claimed its first league title in 25 years by beating the Spokane Indians 6-1 Sunday evening for the Northwest League championship.
“It’s awesome,” first baseman Evan Sharpley, who set the tone with an early home run, described the feeling. “Any time you win a championship it’s special. Everybody in there deserves it.”
The championship ended Everett’s long and agonizing wait for its second league title. The only other championship in franchise history came way back in 1985. Spokane had been 8 for 8 in NWL championship series.
AquaSox starter Anthony Fernandez allowed four hits and three walks in seven innings. But he made the key pitches when it mattered most, inducing groundouts with runners in scoring position to keep the Indians off the board.
The victory completed a comeback in the series. Everett dropped the opener at Spokane on Thursday. However the Sox, who were a league-best 30-8 at home during the regular season, backed up those numbers by sweeping the final two games at home.
And Sunday’s result never seemed in doubt. Fernandez cruised through the first two innings, then Sharpley gave the Sox the lead in the bottom of the second. The left-handed hitter went the opposite way, sending a long fly ball slicing down the left-field line. The only question was whether the ball would be fair or foul, and when it hit the netting along the foul pole Everett had a 1-0 lead.
“I think it was important to get off to a quick start,” Sharpley said. “Once we got off to a good start it was tough for Spokane to respond to that.”
The AquaSox broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth.
Everett got things started when Kevin Rivers led off with a walk and Hawkins Gebbers followed by lining a double off the left-field wall, giving the Sox runners at second and third with nobody out. Sharpley then hit a grounder right at first baseman Andrew Clark, who had the ball carom off his glove and into the outfield. Two runs scored on the error to increase the lead to 3-0.
But the Sox weren’t done. With two on and two out, Anthony Phillips ripped a drive to center that banged off the top of the wall. That plated two more runs, knocking Spokane starter Randol Rojas from the game. Terry Serrano later added an RBI single off reliever Zach Osborne to give Everett a commanding six-run lead.
That six-run advantage held up until the ninth, when Spokane’s Santiago Chirino lined a two-out RBI double into the left-field corner to break the shutout. However, Tyler Burgoon came in and fanned Jacob Skole on three straight pitches to set off a jubilant celebration in the infield.