Frog hurler ‘K’ binge

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, June 27, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – He may not be 6-foot-10, sport a gaudy mustache or ply his trade at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. Nevertheless, Shawn Nottingham did his best Randy Johnson impersonation Sunday afternoon.

Nottingham was a strikeout machine, fanning eight straight batters at one point and leading the Everett AquaSox to an 11-1 victory over the Spokane Indians in a Northwest League game.

Brian Schweiger went 3-for-3 with a home run, scored four runs and drove in three, Marshall Hubbard also homered and Brent Johnson had four hits for Everett (7-3), which snapped a two-game losing streak. But it was Nottingham’s exploits that stole the show.

“In rookie ball this year, I struck out nine in four innings and in high school I struck out seven straight. But eight straight, I didn’t think I had that in me,” Nottingham said. “It’s a great feeling to do that.”

Nottingham thrilled the Everett Memorial Stadium crowd of 3,111 with his pitching prowess. After hitting Tug Hulett to begin the game, the 19-year-old left-hander proceeded to strike out the next eight batters he faced. The streak finally came to an end when Hulett fouled out to third baseman Brandon Green to end the third inning.

The eight consecutive strikeouts fell one short of the Northwest League record of nine, set by Boise’s John Bilello in 1989. The AquaSox record for consecutive strikeouts was not known.

Nottingham, who with his second straight impressive outing improved to 2-0, finished with 10 strikeouts in 62/3 innings. He gave up one run on three hits and two walks.

“In this game my change was definitely my strikeout pitch,” explained Nottingham, who also gave credit to his catcher, Schweiger, for the pitch selection. “I set up a lot of guys with my fastball – the 3-4-5 guys we knew were fastball hitters – and when I got ahead, we’d finish them off with the changeup. I was lucky enough for it to work out.

“I really enjoyed the first three innings and that gave me a lot of adrenaline for the rest of the game,” Nottingham added. “After the fifth, when we scored a bunch of runs, it would have been easy to relax and give in to them. But I just told myself to keep going 100 percent.”

Even after Nottingham’s strikeout string ended, the Indians (6-4) were helpless against the hard-throwing, 6-foot-1 lefty. Spokane’s only run came in the fourth when Brandon Cashman scored from third on a double play.

“He was spotting the ball well, moving it in and out,” said Spokane first baseman Chris Alexander, who was Nottingham’s fourth victim during the strikeout streak. “We were probably a little too timid. He’d get ahead of us, then throw his offspeed pitch in the dirt. We needed to be more aggressive early.”

Offensively, the AquaSox took control early. Everett put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the second, thanks in large part to a trio of excuse-me hits. The rally began with Yung Chi Chen blasting a double off the center-field wall, Casey Craig walking and Mike Wilson singling to right center, scoring Chen.

Then Everett’s fortune came into play. Schweiger had a broken-bat liner drift just over diving shortstop Bobby LeNoir to score Craig, Trevor Heid had a check-swing pop fall in down the right-field line to drive in Wilson and Johnson blooped a single to left to score Schweiger, making it 4-0.

After Spokane scored in the top of the fourth, Everett tacked on another run in the bottom of the frame when Oswaldo Navarro, after fouling off three two-strike pitches, lined a double to left-center, driving home Schweiger to make it 5-1.

The AquaSox broke the game open in the fifth. Hubbard led off the inning with a towering homer to center – his first professional homer – Wilson’s bloop single scored Chen and Schweiger hit a two-run shot to left, increasing the lead to 9-1.

Johnson hit a two-run double to the right-center wall in the seventh, making it 11-1.

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