By Nick Patterson Herald writer
EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox are facing their first bout of adversity this season.
Everett suffered its fourth straight defeat as it fell to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 4-1 Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Everett opened the season with 14 wins in its first 16 games and was threatening to run away with the Northwest League North Division’s first-half title. But now the Sox have Vancouver nipping at their heels.
Sam Eberle homered and Andrew Leenhouts pitched five solid innings to lead Salem-Keizer (16-6), which passed Everett (15-7) for the league’s best record.
Jamodrick McGruder went 3-for-4, including his first professional homer, to lead the Sox.
Everett third baseman DJ Peterson was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning after striking out.
Everett starting pitcher Thyago Vieira held the Volcanoes scoreless on three hits through five innings. However, Salem-Keizer found the range in the sixth. Eberle blasted a two-run homer over the wall in right-center to end the shutout, then later in the inning Geno Escalante smacked a two-run double to the left-center gap to give the Volcanoes a 4-1 lead.
It was another adventuresome outing for Vieira. The Brazilian right-hander had done an excellent job limiting runs this season, despite control issues. But Friday he walked two, hit two and gave catcher Christian Carmichael a workout as Carmichael was required to block numerous balls in the dirt.
Everett had a chance to get back into the game when the Sox loaded the bases in the seventh. However, reliever Cameron McVey struck out Reggie Lawson to end the threat.
When Jack Reinheimer bobbled Johnathan Jones’ grounder in the top of the sixth inning of Thursday’s 12-inning loss, it ended an impressive defensive start to his professional career. Reinheimer played his first 15 games without making an error, handling 82 consecutive chances cleanly at shortstop. … The Sox and the Volcanoes went into Friday night’s game with identical 15-6 records. However, the teams are winning with significantly different rosters. Salem-Keizer is doing it with an older roster, with an average age of 21.71, while Everett is nearly a full year younger at an average age of 20.73. That’s a reflection of organizational philosophies as Salem-Keizer, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, is traditionally one of the league’s oldest teams.