KEIZER — Taylor Ard homered, tripled and drove in four runs and Chris Taylor had four hits to help the Everett AquaSox move closer to a playoff berth with a 11-2 rout of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes on Monday night.
Patrick Kivlehan and the Seattle Mariners 2012 first-round draft pick Mike Zunino added back-to-back home runs. Everett also got production from the bottom of the order as Michael Faulkner and Ketel Marte each had two hits and scored two runs.
Everett (23-8) reduced its magic number to five for the Northwest League West Division first-half title. The Sox lead Eugene by 31/2 and Vancouver by 51/2 with seven games left in the first half of the season. After getting shutout by Tri-City on Sunday, the Sox continued their offensive struggles, coming up with only one hit through the first three innings off Volcanoes starter Joe Biagini (0-3). But Everett finally solved Biagini in the fourth. Ard tripled off the wall in center field to score Taylor, who led off the inning with a single. Kivlehan’s ground out drove in Ard for a 2-0 lead.
Everett added to its lead in the fifth with two more runs. Michael Faulkner beat out a grounder to the shortstop for an infield single. Faulkner stole second and moved to third when the throw by Volcanoes catcher Dashenko Ricardo sailed into center field. With the infield drawn in, Ketel Marte singled back up the middle to score Faulkner. Following a wild pitch, Marte came home on Taylor’s single to make the score 4-0.
That was more than enough support for Sox starting pitcher Rusty Shellhorn, who was making his Everett debut after being promoted from the Mariners’ Arizona League team. The left-hander tossed six shutout innings, giving up just two hits to earn the victory. Shellhorn had posted stellar numbers at the Rookie level, posting a 1.53 ERA in 172/3 innings.
The Sox made sure there was no doubt as to the outcome of the game with four runs in the seventh and three in the ninth.
Taylor recorded his second RBI with a bunt single to score Faulkner and Ard punctuated the seventh with a two-out, three-run homer off Salem-Keizer reliever Franklin Noel.
Ard was on base for Kivlehan’s sixth home run of the year in the ninth. All of Kivelhan’s home runs have come on the road. Zunino immediately followed with his first professional homer, a drive over the wall in left-center.
Rafael Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the seventh off of Mark Bordonaro for Salem-Keizer (11-20).
Everett was denied a scoring opportunity in the first on an odd call. After drawing a walk, Jamodrick McGruder attempted to steal second with Taylor at the plate. The throw went into center fielder and McGruder advanced to third. However, McGruder was called back to first after home plate umpire Louis Williams ruled he interfered with Ricardo’s throw.