The AquaSox returned to Everett Memorial Stadium on August 16th for their Annual “Bark in the Park” event wondering if they were still in it. They just returned from a 5-game road trip in Boise, Idaho. There they had battled in every game but the result was that the Frogs came out with 2 wins and 3 losses, all very close games. Their opponents were the Tri-City Dust Devils who had a 2-game lead on the Frogs. The Frogs were hoping that the could cut the deficit opening this 4-game series. The problem was that all 4 teams in the division were within a couple of games of each other.
The stadium was filled with dogs and fans as they opened the 4-game series with Frogs Starter Anjul Hernandez on the mound and boy did he not disappoint the fans. The first two innings, the teams exchanged goose eggs as both teams had two hits and 0 runs to support it. In the 3rd inning, the Dust Devils threatened with two runners on, but catcher David “Banny” Banuelos threw out the lead base runner trying to steal third to end the rally. In the bottom half, 1b Onil Pena drove in Eugene Helder with an RBI single as the Frogs took an early lead. Starting pitcher Anjul Hernandez struck out the league leading Dust Devils in order in the top of the fourth as the Frogs went to bat in the bottom half. LF Joe Venturino lead off the 4th with a single. With 2 outs, SS Chris Torres belted a mammoth 2-run hr over the right field fence, nearly leaving the stadium. Frogs had a 3-0 lead as they went to the fifth. Tri-Cities threatened in the 5th but didn’t put any runs on the scoreboard. The Frogs remained scoreless as we went into the 6th as the bullpen took over for the Frogs. Anjul Hernandez ended up tossing 5 innings with 7 strike-outs, 0 runs, 5 hits and 1 walk allowed. It was his best performance by far. Tri-Cities and Everett exchanged zeroes as they went into the 7th. The Dust Devils plated 1 run in the 7th but reliever David Ellingson came in and squashed their rally. He was helped by 2B Johnny Adams with a diving catch and SS Chris Torres with another amazing catch to shut them down. In the bottom half, Johnny Adams had an RBI single to put the Frogs up 4-1. The bullpen continued to shine as closer Scott Kuzminsky came in the 9th and shut them down for his 3rd save. Unfortunately, the Frogs remained 2-games out with the win because Vancouver took over the lead in the standings.
Game two Frogs starter Oliver Jaskie took the mound with perhaps his finest performance of the season. If it wasn’t for the pitch count they had on him, he certainly would have gone the distance. He was lights out from the first pitch. He gave up a hit in the first but he picked off the runner leaning too far off the base. In the bottom half of inning one, the Frogs bats came alive with 5 runs on 4 hits. The highlights of the inning were a 2-run single by Joe Venturino and a 2-run double by Ronald Rosario. In the 2nd inning, both teams were retired in order. The high point of the inning was a basket catch by 2b Joe Venturino, one that would have been Sportscenter-worthy on ESPN. The 3rd inning saw more goose eggs as both teams didn’t score. The Frogs defense continued to dominate as catcher David “Banny” Banuleos and 3b Eugene Helder made 2 outstanding catches on pop-outs to them. In the 4th, Jaskie got into trouble but he worked his self out a jam. He ended up going 4 innings with 52 pitches. He struck out 4 batters and gave up 3 hits with no walks, a quality start indeed. In the bottom of the inning, the Frogs scored their 6th run on an RBI single by Eugene Helder scoring Chris Torres from 2b. Former starting pitcher Jose Santiago took over in the 5th inning and pitched the final inning giving up 7 hits on 2 runs while striking out 3 batters. The Frogs went silent but held on for the 2nd victory in a row 6-2 as they moved one game back of the division lead. There was “still a chance” in their eyes. The season wasn’t over yet.
Games 3 and 4 were a total different story. Randy Bell started game 3 and barely made it through 2 innings giving up 3 runs on 4 hits. In the first inning, one of the runs was not his fault. Frogs left fielder Greifer Andrade misplayed a ball hit for a triple quite badly, and CF Ronald Rosario mishandled the ball when he caught up to it which lead to the Dust Devil getting an AquaSox aided “inside the park” home run. As for the Frogs, their bats and their play went dead silent as they failed to score a single run. They managed 3 base hits and 3 walks. The AquaSox bats struck out 13 times. They never had a chance for they never seemed to be in the ballgame. Their play in the field wasn’t any better. Frog Pitcher Michael Suarez came to pitch and went 6 innings. He gave 3 hits and 1 run, striking out 7 batters. Unfortunately, the final score was 4-0, in favor of the Dust Devils as the Frogs fell 2 games back.
In the finale, it was pretty much the same story. Starter Brian McAfee took the mound. He was dominating the first four innings as Tri-Cities put up 1 hit and 0 runs. The Frogs bats were sound asleep as they had 1 hit and 0 runs until the 4th inning. In the 4th they recorded 2 hits and one run. In the 5th inning, our pitcher McAfee fell apart. He gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and didn’t make it out of the inning as the Frogs fell behind 2-1. In the 6th, the Dust Devils scored another run on a double steal to home as their base-runner stole 2nd and their runner made it home on the throw to 2nd. The Frogs came back to tie the ballgame in the 7th inning as they scored 2 runs on 2 hits. The highlight was 2B Joe Venturino with a 2 run single to tie the ballgame. In the 8th inning, our defense fell apart once again as LF Greifer Andrade dropped an easy can of corn to left field. The error lead to the go ahead run as the Frogs bats went silent again. The final score was 4-3 as the Tri-Cities Dust Devils pulled out a 2-2 split in the series as the Frogs fell 3 games out of the division lead.
SSU Stars of the series: In games 1 and 2 it was the pitching; They kept the Frogs in the ballgame. They were the key to winning games 1 and 2. Super utility-man Joe Venturino was the other star. He made key his when they were need, but most of all his defense was spectacular that prevented many more runs from crossing the plate. Great job Joe Venturino!!
The Frogs go out on the road to face the division leading Vancouver Canadians for 3 games before coming home for their final home stand of the year, an 8-game home-stand. Depending on what happens on their road trip the Frogs still have a chance.
We need the fans to come out for the last 8 games of the home-stand, starting this Wednesday August 23rd. They have a chance to win their division, but they need the support. They need to hear the chants of their names, the roar of the crowd on every hit(s). Check out their website for information for all their remaining home games and promotions. They are fan friendly, especially toward the children. The Frogs are fun to watch but without your support, what’s the point? So please come out and watch some real baseball as they are still alive in their quest for the 2017 playoffs, the “Cardiac Kids” of the NWL.
Looking forward to seeing you at the ballpark. Go Frogs!!!