EVERETT — In short-season Class A baseball it’s hard to get around the fact that mistakes will be made. Friday night a baserunning mistake cost the Everett AquaSox an opportunity to win a game.
The AquaSox lost their fourth consecutive game, falling 4-3 in 10 innings to Salem-Keizer in the opening game of a three-game set.
Trailing by one run going into the bottom of the 10th inning, second baseman Brock Hebert led off the inning with a single to center field. The next batter, left fielder Mike Faulkner laid down a sacrifice-bunt to advance Hebert to second base and he moved even closer to scoring the tying run when he advanced to third with on a passed ball by Salem-Keizer catcher Dashenko Ricardo.
As quickly as the AquaSox had put themselves in position to tie the score, the game ended that much quicker. Shortstop Ketel Marte hit a grounder to third-baseman Stephen Yarrow — Hebert took off almost as soon as contact was made, but Yarrow made the play easily and caught Hebert in a run-down. It appeared that the AquaSox would lose their lead runner.
That’s not all they lost.
As soon as the tag was made on Hebert, Yarrow fired the ball to first to pick off Marte, who was trying to get back to the bag after rounding first.
“It was just a baserunning mistake,” AquaSox manager Rob Mummau said of the final play. “He (Hebert) has got to see ball through the infield on a groundball. The infield is in and he just made a baserunning mistake trying to be aggressive and do a little bit too much.”
The Volcanoes took the lead in the top of the 10th inning on the team’s second solo home run of the game, this time by first baseman Joe Rapp.
“They put some good swings on the ball, some fastballs that were up around belt-high or higher and they did a good job of squaring that up,” Mummau said.
The offensive struggles the AquaSox exhibited while getting swept by the Eugene Emeralds carried over into the first several innings of Friday night’s game. The Frogs failed to even record a hit until third baseman Patrick Kivlehan lined a ball off of relief pitcher Keith Bilodeau’s back with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Volcanoes had a little more success than Everett in the hitting department in the first four innings, but the same zero to show for it in the runs column on the scoreboard.
But the Volcanoes seemed determined to play longball in the top of the fifth inning. Center fielder Chuckie Jones led off the inning with a deep drive to right fielder Alfredo Morales, who made the catch with little room to spare. The next batter, Yarrow had the same idea, sending Faulkner back to the warning track, but again it just went down as a long out for the Volcanoes.
Shortstop Stephen Branca made sure the third time was a charm, taking a pitch by starter Victor Sanchez over the wall in straight away center field to give the Volcanoes a 1-0 lead.
The Frogs would get that run back plus another in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to Kivlehan’s league-leading eighth home run of the season — a two-run shot over the right field wall.
Kivlehan’s home run was a shot in the arm of an offense that had been struggling.
“We didn’t swing the bats real well in Eugene and the first half of this game,” Mummau said. “We came back the second half and swung the bats better. We’re still not where we need to be, but we’re showing some improvements with the bats and hopefully we can carry it into tomorrow’s game.”
Everett’s lead was short-lived as Salem-Keizer responded in the top of the seventh.
With one out, Jones singled off relief pitcher Mario DeJesus. Just moments later Jones was on third base after stealing second and advancing on a throwing error by Everett catcher Mike Zunino. The next batter, Yarrow singled and Jones scored to tie the score at 2-2. Branca followed with a single that advanced Yarrow to third base. Yarrow came in to score and give Salem-Keizer a 3-2 lead with left fielder Kentrell Hill at the plate on a passed ball by Zunino.
Everett came back to tie it again in the bottom of the eighth inning and they did it all with two outs. After a couple of defensive lapses by Zunino, he started the rally with double off the center field wall that narrowly missed leaving the yard to tie the game. Zunino would come in to tie the game moments later on a bloop-single to right field by first baseman Taylor Ard.
“He’s mentally mature,” Mummau said of Zunino. “That’s one of the good things to see that he can bounce back like that. It’s good to see that he can overcome adversity.”
Aaron Lommers covers sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com