Taylor Ard is finding out that the third time really can be the charm.
The former Washington State Cougar’s home run on Sunday night was one of three straight homers for Everett as the AquaSox won 7-6 in 12 innings and picked up a second straight Northwest League victory over the Spokane Indians in front of 4,120 fans at Avista Stadium.
Ard was drafted in the 33rd round by the Florida Marlins in 2010, and again in 2011 by the Boston Red Sox in the 25th round – but decided to keep playing collegiately because the money wasn’t right.
For the 6-foot-1, 230-pound native of Vancouver, Wash., the 2012 MLB draft didn’t carry any added pressure. When the Seattle Mariners selected him in the seventh round this year, the situation was finally right for Ard.
“It was the third time around though, so I wasn’t too overwhelmed,” Ard told The Seattle Times in June. “But it’s always nice to hear your name called. … I want to play every day, I play through injuries. I take pride in my (low) strikeout total.
“I just want to produce, drive in runs and hit the ball over the fence sometimes.”
Sunday night was one of those times.
Ard’s ninth home run of the season came in a three-homer fifth inning for the AquaSox (8-12).
Mike Zunino – the third overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft – broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run home run for the second straight night, and Ard followed with a solo shot to left field on a 3-0 count. Patrick Kivlehan followed Ard and capped off the five-run inning, also with a solo home run to left.
“It’s happened before and it’ll probably happen again,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “We need to pitch better in the middle innings and try and avoid that situation as best as we can.”
Not that the Indians were terrible from the mound. There were bright spots.
Zunino, who finished 4 for 5 with four RBIs on Saturday and came into Sunday’s game batting .377, struck out three times on Sunday. He struck out in his first at-bat against Spokane starter CJ Edwards, the Texas Rangers’ 48th-round draft pick who has been pitching like anything but a 48th-round guy this summer.
Edwards pitched the first four innings, striking out seven while walking two and scattering two hits and one run.
“He had some good stuff for us tonight,” Hulett said.
It was the fifth inning, with Shawn Blackwell on the mound, that ultimately cost Spokane (8-11) the game. Then, after the Indians rallied from a 6-1 deficit, it was an overthrown ball on a fielder’s choice that allowed Everett’s run in the top of the 12th to score.
“Sometimes you just get beat,” Hulett said. “What we need to do is not give up so many runs.”