Matt Tuiasosopo: Two-fer Tui

M's third-round draft pick Matt Tuiasosopo made his debut with the Everett AquaSox Thursday night and InsidethePark.com was there to see it. Publisher Joe Kaiser made the trek to Everett Memorial Stadium to catch up with the hot-hitting Woodinville resident.

EVERETT- Fans didn't flock to Everett Memorial Stadium on Thursday night to see a ball game; they came to see a show. While the scoreboard may not have reflected anything positive for fans of the Mariners' Single-A affiliate AquaSox, the 2,338 in attendance would be hard-pressed not to feel anything but satisfaction.

The show came in the form of No. 21, Matt Tuiasosopo, the newest addition to the AquaSox after Wednesday's promotion from rookie ball, the Mariners first pick in the June draft, and the product of Woodinville High just 20 miles down the road.

Reason to be excited? Maybe a little.

The hootin' and hollerin' didn't happen right away, however. Tuiasosopo, who was put into the sixth spot in the lineup as a designated hitter in his first game for the AquaSox, fanned in each of his first two at bats, swinging through third strikes on both occasions.

With the butterflies out of his system, the 18-year-old made the most of his third opportunity, which came with runners at the corners with no outs in the sixth inning. After fouling off the first pitch by right-handed reliever Jose Cespedes, he delivered a bloop single to right field to plate Mike Wilson from third base for Everett's first run of the game.

The crowd's reaction said it all - cheers, screams, whistles, you name it. Down 7-1 at the time, it seemingly didn't matter. It was the moment the fans had come to see.

In a similar situation with two outs in the seventh inning and runners at the corners, Tuiasosopo delivered in the clutch again. Down 0-1 in the count, he fought off a fastball in on his hands and sent a broken-bat single to center field for his second RBI of the night. It also proved to be Everett's second and final run of the game in a 7-2 loss to Eugene.

"The first at bat I was just trying to see some pitches and get used to the feeling here," said Tuiasosopo, talking to the media after first signing autographs for everyone who wanted one. "To finally get those little bloopers hits felt pretty good. It felt good to get those two guys in. Everything was a little easier after that."

As for the new team, the new surroundings, and a return to his mom's home-cooking, the teenage infielder said all were welcome changes.

"It was a lot different (in Everett from Peoria)," said Tuiasosopo. "The whole environment. In Peoria we probably had five people in the stands. To be here in this stadium at home in front of family and friends, it was really good to come out here and get that first (game in)."

"That kind of stuff is great for the fans and the community," said Matt's father Manu Tuiasosopo after the game. "It's going to be important for Matt to just continue to play hard and keep his focus and respect the game."

The final stat line showed just a glimpse of Tuiasosopo's bright future: 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 K. Not bad for a youngster in his first start in front of a hometown crowd. But then again, what else is to be expected from a Tuiasosopo.

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