By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes flexed their muscle Thursday night, slugging three home runs as they defeated the Everett AquaSox 6-4 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Salem-Keizer managed just eight hits in the game, but the Volcanoes made the most of them, with homers from Sam Mende, Will Callaway and Skyler Ewing doing the bulk of the damage. Salem-Keizer built a 6-0 lead through seven-and-a-half innings, and that was more than Everett was able to overcome.
Ethan Miller threw six scoreless innings to earn the win on the mound for Salem-Keizer (17-17).
Austin Cousino and Corey Simpson homered to lead Everett (9-25), which began its comeback too late. James Paxton, who was making a rehabilitation start for Everett as he works his way back to the Seattle Mariners, took the loss after allowing two runs in 22/3 innings.
The victory was Salem-Keizer’s third of the five-game series, which concludes tonight. That means Everett has lost each of its first nine series this season.
The game was all Volcanoes most of the way. Salem-Keizer gradually built a lead, then scored three in the top of the eighth, punctuated by Ewing’s two-run shot to left, to increase its lead to 6-0 and seemingly putting it out of reach.
But Everett, which was on its way to being shut out for the second straight day with just two hits through the first seven innings, showed life in the bottom of the eighth. Singles by Jordan Cowan and Nelson Ward preceded an Everett Memorial Stadium home run by Cousino, in which a high fly ball that would have been an out in most parks just cleared the short porch in right-center. But Simpson struck with a no doubter to left later in the inning to bring the Sox within two.
The Sox then brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but couldn’t score.
Everett already had three catchers on its roster, yet the Sox added a fourth to the roster Thursday as James Alfonso joined the team.
Alfonso, a 22-year-old from Raynham, Mass., was the Seattle Mariners’ 30th-round pick in this year’s draft out of the University of Hartford. He had been with Peoria of the rookie Arizona League, where in 12 games he batted .216 with one home run and five RBI.
A fourth catcher on the roster may seem a bit of overkill. However, of the three players listed as catchers, Kyle Petty has been playing first base for the majority of Everett’s games, and Adam Martin has often served as the designated hitter when not catching. Therefore, when Luke Guarnaccia would start behind the plate, there’d be a lack of catchers available to warm pitchers up in the bullpen. Alfonso’s availability helps alleviate that logistical problem.