By JOHN MCDONALD
EVERETT – In a not-so-instant replay, the Everett AquaSox posted their second straight 5-4 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Sunday, once again scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Chuck Lopez came off the bench to line a bases-loaded single into right field, scoring Blake Bone with one out. Lopez had visited the hospital earlier in the day with a stomach flu.
"That was big time," said AquaSox trainer Spyder Webb. "He’s not feeling well. That’s one tough kid there."
The AquaSox, 15-11 after winning their third straight game, took sole possession of first place in the North Division of the Northwest League as Spokane lost 3-2 to Eugene.
The AquaSox completed a trifecta of sorts off the Volcanoes’ bullpen. After Salem-Keizer starter Joe Farley pitched five scoreless innings, The AquaSox broke from four runs behind to tie the score against the first two S-K relievers. Then they pinned a loss on Jim Harrelson (1-4), the fourth reliever.
"When you get to the pen early in a series, they get weaker and weaker as you make them throw more pitches," said Bone, who hit a two-run homer in the seventh and led off the ninth with a single.
Harrelson then hit Mark Carroll with a pitch. He retired Brett Higgins on a fly ball after Higgins fouled off two pitches, the second a bunt attempt. And he hit Pelagio Pena with a pitch to load the bases for Lopez, who singled off reliever Matthew Faas.
"It’s kinda scary having to wait until the ninth inning," said acting manager Darrin Garner, "but this team never gives up."
It was Everett’s fifth bottom-of-the-ninth victory and its 12th come-from-behind win.
The first three Salem-Keizer runs came on solo homers. The first four Everett runs were scored as the result of homers, Bone’s and two solo shots by Higgins.
"I was glad to help the team out," Higgins said. "The home runs helped a lot, but I wish I could have gotten the bunt down (in the ninth). I didn’t have to feel so bad about that, though, cause we scored anyway."
Bone also made an ice cream cone catch of a line drive by Ed Maldonado with one out in the ninth to keep Everett reliever Steve Kent out of trouble. Kent (1-0) earned the win with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Bone, the author of Saturday’s game-winning hit, continued his clutch performing with a two-run home run in the seventh inning. Jaime Bubela led off with a bunt single.
"I’m taking a better approach right now," Bone said. "The ball looks big to me right now."
Bone’s homer trimmed Salem-Keizer’s lead to one run. Higgins tied the score with a two-out blast out of the ballpark. Higgins’ second home run cleared the wall in right beyond the Homer Porch.
After failing to score in two earlier opportunities, the Sox finally got a run in the sixth inning on Higgins’ one-out homer over the scoreboard in right-center.
Salem-Keizer built its lead to four runs in the top of the sixth. Everett relief pitcher Erick Swanson retired the first two men he faced, then walked two and gave up an RBI single to Matt Keating.
The AquaSox came up empty on their second straight scoring opportunity in the fifth inning. Jamal Strong led off with an infield hit and stolen base. He moved to third on another infield hit by Bubela. But Manny Crespo struck out and Strong was thrown out at home trying to tag and score on Bone’s fly to shallow right field.
Bone, who drove in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday, notched Everett’s first hit Sunday with a double down the right-field line to lead off the fourth.
The Sox failed to capitalize on the situation, though. Carroll hit a bullet, but it was right at the third baseman for a line out. Bone reached third on Higgins’ infield groundout and Pena and Miguel Richardson walked to load the bases. But the runners were stranded when outfielder Bryan Carter made a diving catch on Corey Freeman’s drive to right.
Salem-Keizer’s Trey Lunsford led off the second inning with a home run. It was the third solo home run allowed by AquaSox starter Aaron Taylor. Nick Wilfong and Lance Niekro hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the first inning for Salem-Keizer.
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