Jayson Aquino delivered the best start by a Tri-City Dust Devils pitcher this year.
Unfortunately, his departure was followed by the Dust Devils’ worst meltdown of the year in a 5-2 loss to the Everett AquaSox on Tuesday at Gesa Stadium.
Aquino allowed just one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, leaving the game with one out in the seventh and a runner on first base. Aquino’s replacement, Shawn Stuart, faced five batters but didn’t retire any of them.
Stuart, a second-year reliever, allowed two walks, two base hits — including a two-run single to James Zamarippa and an RBI triple to Jamodrick McGruder — and a suicide squeeze by Jack Reinheimer as the AquaSox erased a 2-0 first-inning deficit to strengthen their hold on first place in the Northwest League North Division.
“What’s done is done. We’re going to fail. The important thing is come back the next day,” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said. “Both clubs have shown they can come from behind. We just have to continue to fight.”
Everett (10-2) maintained a three-game lead over Vancouver (7-5), while Tri-City (5-7) and Spokane (7-5) both dropped into a two-way tie for third.The Dust Devils started out strong, tapping Everett starter Steven Ewing for two runs in the first inning.
Wilson Soriano drew a leadoff walk, and Alec Mehrten followed with a single to right to send Soriano to third. Mehrten advanced to second on a throwing error by right fielder Austin Wilson, setting up runners at second and third with no outs.
Mike Tauchman and Michael Benjamin both followed with RBI singles to put Tri-City up 2-0.
“That’s what we always talk about, getting out front,” Saylor said. “But we lost focus and started swinging at some bad pitches.”
Aquino was using a dizzying curve to keep AquaSox hitters off balance. Through four innings, Aquino induced 11 groundball outs — most of them easy bouncers — and allowed just one hit.
“He gave us the best opportunity to win,” Saylor said.
Stuart (1-1), who took the loss, has been a steady reliever on the road, not allowing a run in four games. He’s struggled at Gesa Stadium, however, giving up five earned runs in just a third of an inning over two appearances for a home ERA of 135.00.