The Everett AquaSox’ collapse has been pretty astonishing to witness. The team that the Eugene Emeralds trailed by more than eight games in July is now in third place in the High-A West. Eugene leads Everett by 3.5 games after the Emeralds’ third straight win over the Frogs on Thursday at PK Park.
They won 4-1, fueled by Kai-Wei Teng’s 13 strikeouts and a bullpen shutdown. Ismael Munguia came through with the big hit, taking advantage of an Everett error.
Munguia showed his hustle in the top of the first. He singled, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a fly out. Jairo Pomares and Sean Roby struck out though, stranding Munguia on third.
Teng took the mound, looking to bounce back from two consecutive shaky outings. He cruised through a perfect first inning with two strikeouts, but the second inning was tougher. He surrendered a lead-off double down the third base line, then loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batsman.
He gave up a sacrifice fly in between a pair of strikeouts, limiting the damage to one run, but letting Everett take an early lead.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Marco Luciano put together one of his best at-bats thus far in an Emerald uniform. He worked a full count, then hit a rocket into the left field gap. He hustled and slid into third for a triple — likely a double for most players.
A pitch later, he hustled home on a ball that got by the catcher, coming in to tie the game at one apiece. Luciano provided a glimpse into how he could become an electric player for the San Francisco Giants one day.
Teng got into more trouble in the third, giving up a walk and a single to start things off. But he struck out the next three to hold the tie.
Teng settled down to make it through six innings, collecting a whopping 13 strikeouts in the process — his career high. He was locating his fastball for the most part, and his breaking stuff was sharp.
The Emeralds’ offense remained mostly silent, with 10 in a row being sent down at one point.
With two outs in the seventh, Ricardo Genoves hit what seemed like a harmless two-out single. Franklin Labour followed by drawing a walk. Carter Aldrete then hit a ground ball to third that should have ended the inning, but the third baseman booted it, loading the bases.
The error proved costly, as Munguia sliced a two-run double to put the Emeralds in front 3-1. Munguia is batting an absurd .488 since July 30.
Austin Reich took the mound for the eighth, coming off of his immaculate inning on Tuesday. He was nearly as good, taking just nine pitches to throw a perfect inning while striking out two batters.
Pomares provided Eugene with an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, smacking a solo home run to right-center field. Genoves nearly added another run later in the inning with a double, but Roby ran home in a rather lackadaisical manner and was thrown out on the relay.
Chris Wright continued his usual dominance with a perfect ninth inning. Reich-Wright could be an elite one-two punch out of the bullpen for years to come.
The Emeralds are now in first place by 1.5 games with a Spokane loss. They’ll play at PK Park just one more time in 2021, with a doubleheader on Friday starting at 4:05 p.m.