AquaSox's Zunino comes through in crucial moment
Zunino's three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning capped an improbable two-out rally, with the Sox going on to defeat the Vancouver Canadians 7-6 in 10 innings.
"Yeah," Zunino, the Seattle Mariners' first-round pick in this year's draft, responded when asked if it was a the best moment of his pro career so far. "It was just one of those where I could really help the team out. It just came at a timely spot, but it was so exciting at the same time."
Everett looked dead and buried. The Sox trailed 6-1 with two out in the bottom of the ninth. But the Sox staged a two-out comeback, scoring twice and bringing Zunino to the plate representing the tying run.
"We got back in the dugout and the first thing I did was take my catcher's gear off, because I knew I would have to get up if we were to tie the game," Zunino said. "I had my batting gloves on and I was ready to go. I was mentally preparing myself once the inning started. The guys in front of me did a great job getting on, had good at bats, and I was able to have that opportunity."
What Zunino did was take a hanging 1-1 curveball from Zack Breault off the video board in left-center to tie the score.
"I was just going up there looking to make good contact to try and keep the inning going," Zunino said. "I was able to get a pitch I could handle and put a good swing on. I wasn't really trying to do too much, I just got lucky with the pitch I got."
Everett won it in the 10th on Jamodrick McGruder's single.
"The fans were great yesterday," Zunino said. "We struggled early with the bats, but they stayed behind us and we were able to give them a good show at the end."
As Sox pitching coach Rich Dorman jogged toward the bullpen before Sunday's game to monitor a pair of bullpen sessions, he gave an enthusiastic yelp.
"We're not last in the league in walks anymore!" Dorman exclaimed.
Indeed, it seems Everett's control is beginning to take form.
The Sox have been toward to the top of the Northwest League in run prevention all season. Going into Sunday Everett was tied for second in the league in team ERA at 3.25. But the Sox accomplished this despite control issues that had Everett leading the league in walks allowed, with the bullpen being the primary culprit.
But in the previous 11 games Everett's pitchers issued just 32 walks in 100 innings, and the bullpen over that stretch allowed 15 in 42 innings. In the past three games the pen issued just one walk in 112/3 innings.
As a result, Everett moved into seventh in the league in walks allowed with 179, one fewer than Spokane.
Infielder Keith Werman's stay with the Sox was brief. Werman, who joined the team less than two weeks ago, was sent to Peoria of the rookie Arizona League. Werman appeared in just three games for Everett, going 0-for-11.
Opponent: Eugene Emeralds
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: PK Park, Eugene, Ore.
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett right-hand
Nick Patterson, Herald writer
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