By Nick Patterson Herald writer
EVERETT — It seems the Everett AquaSox were so drained by their late-night doubleheader sweep of the Spokane Indians that they decided to sleep in for Sunday’s afternoon tilt.
The Sox arrived three innings late as they dropped an 11-2 decision to the Indians in the finale of their five-game series at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The Sox, who won twice Saturday as play stretched late into the night, were missing in action at the start of Sunday’s game as Everett’s first three innings scored a zero on the artistic impression scale. Starting pitcher Jose Valdivia struggled with his command, the Sox committed three errors, and Spokane took a 10-0 lead to render the final six frames academic.
“We got off to a bad start, down 5-0,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said. “We had some defensive plays we could have made and got off to a bad start. That kind of set the tone for the whole game.”
Cam Schiller homered, his first as a professional, and Barrett Serrato drove in four runs for Spokane (2-8), which snapped a six-game losing streak.
“It was a nice comfortable win,” said Spokane manager Tim Hulett, who was relieved to see his team end its skid and finally register its second victory of the season. “Especially after the first two games, those were extra-inning games where you had a shot of winning. We hadn’t put many wins on the board, and when you lose those two it’s tough.”
The one Everett player who didn’t press the snooze button was catcher Marcus Littlewood, who went 3-for-3 with a homer. No other player had more than one hit for the Sox, who were unable to pull off a sweep of the five-game series. Everett (7-3) fell one game behind Vancouver in the Northwest League’s West Division standings, with the Canadians coming to Everett tonight for the start of a three-game series.
Everett stumbled out of the gate as the top of the first inning was a complete disaster for the Sox. An error by second baseman Jean Acevedo helped the Indians load the bases. Serrato then cleared the bases with a double to left-center, the ball falling just beyond the reach of a diving center fielder Mike Faulkner. Schiller followed by ripping a liner that cleared the fence in center for a two-run homer, giving Spokane a 5-0 lead before Everett even came to bat.
The third was another Little-League inning for the Sox as they continued to boot the ball around the infield, committing two more errors and giving up five more runs as the Indians stretched the lead to double digits. Smerling Lantigua’s RBI triple and Preston Beck’s two-run double did the primary damage.
That was more than enough run support for Spokane starting pitcher Abel De Los Santos, who threw five innings of one-hit ball.
“Swinging the bats early and getting the lead (was the key),” Hulett said. “Our pitcher was able to settle in, he could make pitches, and it makes it more difficult for their guys to dig in because our guy can pitch a little differently with a five-run lead off the bat.”
In contrast, Valdivia struggled mightily, allowing nine hits and three walks before being pulled after 22/3 innings. Valdivia also received no defensive support as just five of the nine runs he allowed were earned.
“I think part of his struggles were because of the defense,” Mummau said of the 20-year-old Nicaraguan right-hander. “Our defense didn’t help him out early in the game, and he gave up some balls over the middle of the plate. To Spokane’s credit they took advantage of it.”
Everett finally got on the board in the seventh. The Sox had one hit to that point. But Littlewood’s solo homer and Jamodrick McGruder’s RBI single ended the shutout. The Sox loaded the bases to bring slugger Taylor Ard to the plate with a chance to bring a hint of drama into the contest. However, Ard flew out to end the inning, and the Sox never again threatened.