By JOHN MCDONALD
EVERETT – The slump is back.
The Everett AquaSox suffered a relapse Thursday of the team-wide hitting slump that began last week in Portland but seemed over Wednesday after the Sox scored 10 runs on 15 hits.
Everett (12-11) had just four hits in a 4-1 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in a Northwest League game. It was the AquaSox’ fourth straight loss and their sixth in seven games.
Manager Terry Pollreisz missed the game following the death of his father earlier Thursday. Coach Darrin Garner served as acting manager in his stead.
"We’re inconsistent," Garner said. "We’re not getting back-to-back hits."
The AquaSox were limited to two scoring opportunities by three Salem-Keizer pitchers. They cashed in one, but not the other, failing to score in the bottom of the seventh after getting runners to second and third with one out.
"When you don’t execute, it’s even worse," Garner said. "You’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities when your team’s not hitting."
Salem-Keizer belied its position as the Northwest League’s worst pitching staff (6.36 team earned run average). Starter Eric Johnson (1-1) gave up one unearned run on two hits. Reliever Julio Pavon escaped the jam in the seventh with consecutive strikeouts. And reliever Luke Anderson, who registered his first save, struck out five in two innings.
In all, eight of the last 10 AquaSox batters were retired on strikeouts.
"I thought we’d broken out of (the slump) last night," Garner said. "But tonight we swung at bad pitches. We weren’t selective. We had a lot of 2-0 and 3-1 pitches where we took bad swings. We had no discipline."
AquaSox starter Sam Walton pitched 51/3 scoreless innings. Reliever Kevin Olore (1-2) made one serious slip, yielding a two-run home run to Nick Wilfong in the seventh.
Salem-Keizer erased a short-lived 1-0 Everett lead with four runs that inning. The rally started when Everett right fielder Wilfredo Quintana dropped Ed Maldonado’s fly ball for a two-base error. Olore next hit Jason Ellison with a pitch and wild pitched the runners to second and third.
Maldonado scored and Ellison took third on a groundout by Bryan Gann. Lance Niekro singled to left to drive in Ellison and Wilfong followed with his two-run home run to the deepest part of the park in center.
The AquaSox broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jamal Strong drew a one-out walk. Strong scampered all the way to third when Johnson threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt. He then tagged and scored on a sacrifice fly by Northwest League RBI leader Quintana.
Salem-Keizer mounted the game’s first serious scoring threat in the top of the sixth inning. Niekro led off with a double off the scoreboard in right-center. An out later, Trey Lunsford singled to left, sending Niekro to third.
At that point, Garner replaced Walton with Olore, who walked Jason Pekar to load the bases but struck out Mark Walker and Derek Bell to strand all three runners.
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