AquaSox: Strong Home-stand Finish to an Exciting Season

A Happy Eugene Helder celebrates with teammates.

The Everett AquaSox returned home on August 23rd for their final home-stand of the regular season, hoping to still salvage their playoff hopes. They had just finished playing their neighbors to the north, losing 2 of 3 to Vancouver. They were all close games. The Frogs were only a few games out of the division lead in a tight race, while Vancouver was currently on top of their division. The AquaSox were hoping to change that scenario as they faced off against Vancouver again in front of their home town fans.

The Frogs had pitcher Randy Bell on the mound on a warm night in Everett. He was throwing strikes as he retired the side in order. In the bottom of the 2nd, Frogs put across 2 runs on back to back home runs by Greifer Andrade and Onil Pena. Bell was pulled after 3 as newcomer Clay Chandler came in to pitch 2 shutout innings. The Frogs managed one more run in the 4th inning on errors and wild pitches by the Vancouver team. AquaSox pitcher Chris Castallanos came into the game in the 6th and shut down the hot hitting Vancouver team from the north over the next 3 innings. Closer Matt Clancy came in to pitch the 9th inning and he struck out the side for his 6th save of the season as the Frogs won 3-1.

Game 2 saw pitcher Brian McAfee take the mound for the Frogs. He pitched 5 2/3 innings but he kept the Frogs in the ballgame giving up only 1 run. The Frogs didn’t manage a hit until the bottom of the 6th inning, a measly single by Chris Torres. The bullpen came in to pitch the final 3 and 1/3 innings giving up 2 more runs in the process. The AquaSox continued to be mystified as they didn’t get any more hits until the bottom of the 9th. Chris Torres hit a solo home run for their first run of the ballgame. They managed one more hit and a walk but stranded them as the outcome was 3-1 Vancouver. 3B Eugene Helder and CF Austin Grebeck made several Sport-center highlights during the ballgame that kept the game close in hand, including the human highlight film Grebeck, throwing out a base-runner at the plate from deep center field.

Friday night lights saw the AquaSox ace Andres Torres on the mound knowing that this will be a great ballgame. It was also Seattle Mariner Pitcher Felix Hernandez bobble-head night. The weather was perfect and the stands were filled as both teams took the field. In the bottom of the first, the Frogs awoke for the first time in a long time as they batted around in their lineup generating 5 runs on 6 hits. The highlights of the inning were a 3-run home run by Onil Pena and an RBI double by Joe Venturino. Andres Torres left after 6 innings, giving up 6 hits and 0 runs while striking out 6 batters, another quality start for our ace! Lefty David Hesslink out of MIT came in and pitched 2 scoreless innings. He looked very “Moyer-esque” as he shut down Vancouver. In the 9th inning, the bullpen gave up 4 runs to Vancouver unfortunately. But the final score was 11-4 as the Frogs took 2 of 3 games from Vancouver. They were still in the hunt as they waited on Eugene Emeralds who were their next opponents.


Saturday night saw the Eugene Emeralds come into town for the final home series of the season, a 5-game series.

The stadium was at a near sold-out capacity as they Frogs were celebrating the 20-year anniversary of “Frogstock”. The AquaSox managed to get 1 run, as Manny Pazos hit a sacrifice fly scoring David “Banny” Banuelos from 3rd as the Frogs took an early 1-0 lead. In the 3rd, they scored another run to go up 2-0. In the 4th inning Eugene’s bats came alive as they put up 2 runs on 3 hits as they tied it up 2-2. In the 6th inning, the Emeralds scored another run as they drove starter Clay Chandler from the game. It would have been a bigger lead had it not been for left fielder Greifer Andrade who threw out a base-runner at the plate trying to score. The Frogs and the Emeralds bats went south after that as both teams combined for 24 strike-outs. Eugene pulled it out at the end with a 3-2 victory.

Oliver Jaskie took the mound in game 2 on Sunday afternoon. In the third, pitcher Jose Santiago took over and shut down Eugene in order. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Frogs bats lit up. They scored 3 runs on 4 hits, the highlights were a 2-run triple by 3b Manny Pazos and an RBI single by Greifer Andrade. In the 4th, Santiago 2 hits and got a little wild. The Emeralds managed to score a run as the score became 3-1. After that, the rest of the ballgame saw the teams manage 2 hits combined as they Frogs pulled out the victory 3-1. Santiago got the victory and closer Matt Clancy continued his dominance and struck out 2 of 3 batters to earn his 7th save.

Game 3 saw starting pitcher Randy Bell return to the mound. In the bottom of the 1st inning, SS Chris Torres lead off with a double. He came around to score on a ground-out as the Frogs took an early 1-0 lead. Both teams exchanged 0’s over the next two innings with Bell being relieved by Chris Castallanos in the 3rd. In the 4th, the Frogs managed to put up 2 more runs on 1 hit as they took a 3-0 lead. Joe Venturino had an RBI double to highlight the inning. He would later score himself on a wild pitch. In the 5th inning, the Emeralds scored their first run as catcher Juan Camacho had problems blocking the ball on numerous occasions during that inning. In the 6th, Eugene scored 2 more runs to tie it up 3-3 as they drove Castallanos from the game. The 7th inning saw Everett’s defense fall apart as Chris Torres and Juan Camacho made key errors to allow the Emeralds 4th run cross the plate. After another strikeout by an AquaSox, the 13th of the ballgame, catcher Juan Camacho had a single in the bottom of the 8th. He was replaced by pinch-runner Aaron Stroosma who then was wild-pitched around the diamond, as the Frogs tied it up 4-4. Frogs set-up man and co-closer Scott Kuzminsky came in the ballgame to pitch the 9th. He gave up a lead-hit by he got the next 3 guys out to stop the potential rally as we went to the bottom of the 9th still tied. After Rosario struck out, Austin Grebeck walked. Chris Torres hit a single. With runners on 1st and 2nd, “Mr. Clutch” Eugene Helder came to the plate. The fans were on their feet as they sensed a possible walk-off hit and they were not disappointed. Helder belted a base hit to right-center. The fans knew it would be close as Grebeck rounded third and headed home as the throw came in. As he slid, the ump signaled “safe” as the Frogs won in walk-off fashion 5-4. The Cardiac Kids weren’t giving up.

Tuesday, game 4 of the series was an early afternoon game. Starter Brian McAfee took the mound. He was quite ineffective as he gave up 4 runs in the first 3 innings as Eugene went up 4-0. Pitcher Michael Rivera came in to pitch during the 3rd to stop the bleeding. In the bottom of the 3rd, Austin Grebeck hit a single and Chris Torres crushed a 2-run home run to cut the lead to 4-2. Rivera would shut down Eugene the next two innings as we went to the bottom of the 5th still down 4-2. The Frogs quickly loaded the bases as Chris Torres scored a run on a wild pitch. Onil Pena got walked as the bases were loaded again. Sedro Wooley’s own Aaron Stroosma preceded to hit his first professional home run, a “Grand Stroosma” as the Frogs went up 7-4. The Frogs scored 3 more runs on 5 hits in the 7th inning to go up 10-4. Eugene tried to scare the Frogs in the 9th by scoring a run off local boy Ted Hammond but he quickly shut them down. The Frogs won 10-5 to still stay in the race as the regular season was slowly ending.

Game five was not only the last home game of the season, but it was fan appreciation night. AquaSox ace Andres Torres was on the mound as well. The Frogs were playing for a possible post season berth. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Torres gave up 2 runs over the first 3 innings but he battled like the warrior that he’s been all season to keep the Frogs in it. But the offense never showed up; they had more strikeouts than hits again. Torres gave up 2 runs in the fifth as he was knocked from the game. David Hesslink came in and looked lost from the start. He gave up 6 runs over the next 1 2/3 innings. Fabian Roman tried to stop the bleeding but before we all knew it, it was 12-0 through 6.5 innings. Thankfully closer Matt Clancy came in and pitched 2 shut-out innings but it wasn’t enough. The Frogs couldn’t do anything right as they fell 12-0 and 3 games back behind the division leaders with 3 games to go.

S.S.U. stars of the series: The AquaSox had a decent home-stand going 5-3. A few players stood out, but the stars of the series were 2b Joe Venturino and co-closers Matt Clancy and Scott Kuzminsky. Joe Venturino had a home-stand to remember, crushing the ball on numerous occasions. He had 9 hits over the 8 games, driving in 6. He also made numerous defensive plays that kept his team in the ballgame. Co-closers Matt and Scott kept the Frogs in every game they pitched on the home-stand and were dominating from start to finish.

The Frogs visited Spokane to finish the season and unfortunately were eliminated from playoff contention.

Regardless, it’s been an amazing season that I will never forget. Nice job!!

Go Frogs!!

Brian joined the SSU in 2017 and covers the Everett AquaSox. I’m a graduate of Washington State University and I’m a die-hard baseball fan.

 

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