Halman breaks out

Gregory Halman is getting himself back in the groove.

After suffering through a miserable slump, Halman busted out in a big way, homering in three straight games going into Tuesday night.

“I’m feeling good,” Halman said. “I went through a bad slump and I’m just trying to get back to what I was doing before that. I’m still struggling a little bit, but it’s coming back.”

Everett’s center fielder and leading hitter was batting a robust .352 on Aug. 3. But he fell into an awful slump. Going into Saturday’s game at Eugene he was 1-for-his-past-23 with 13 strikeouts, seeing his average dip below .300 for the first time since the first week of the season.

“I was definitely swinging at balls out of the zone,” Halman explained. “I wasn’t realizing what I was doing wrong and I wasn’t really making any adjustments.”

But Halman snapped that slump by going 3-for-5 with a homer in Everett’s 4-1 victory, and he’s homered every game since, pulling himself up to second in the league with 13 dingers.

“Heading into that first game I did a lot of hitting in the cage with Henry (Cotto, Everett’s hitting coach) and I decided I was going to see the ball in deep and lay off the breaking pitch. the first ball I hit was a flyout to left-center and I knew I was seeing the ball good.”

Halman’s surge helped his average bounce back to .303.

Hill headed out: Relief pitcher Nick Hill is about to turn in his AquaSox uniform for that of his country.

Hill, the hero of Sunday’s 6-5 comeback win in Eugene, in which he struck out 10 in five innings, is also a graduate of the Military Academy at West Point. He is expected to make one more appearance for Everett before departing to serve his duties with the Army.

He will remain with the team through its series at Salem-Keizer, which ends Monday. Then he’ll return home to Bluff City, Tenn., for two days before beginning his offseason duties as an Army recruiter, first in Georgia and then Missouri.

“I’m kind of looking forward to it,” Hill said. “I knew I was going to be doing that when I went to school there. I’ve just been given a great opportunity to be playing with a great coaching staff and a great group of players. I’m thankful they’re able to work with me and understand what all I’ll be going through.”

Hill has been excellent for Everett and has gotten stronger as the season’s progressed. In 17 relief appearances, the left-hander has a 0.56 ERA, striking out 41 in 32 innings.

Record pace: Everett’s prodigious strikeout totals have the Sox threatening the Northwest League record for strikeouts in a season.

Going into Tuesday night’s game the Sox had fanned 630 times in 60 games, a rate of 10.5 per game. The league record for strikeouts in a season is 738, set by Everett in 1996. Therefore, to break the record Everett would need to strike out just 109 times in its final 16 games, a rate of 6.8 per game.

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