AquaSox starting pitcher Isaiah Campbell delivers the first pitch of the season during a game against Eugene on Friday at Funko Field in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

AquaSox starting pitcher Isaiah Campbell delivers the first pitch of the season during a game against Eugene on Friday at Funko Field in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Packard’s grand slam lifts AquaSox past Emeralds in opener

Everett struggles early but gets a big hit when in it counts to pull away.

EVERETT — Spencer Packard made sure the Everett AquaSox started their 2022 season in style.

Packard spoiled a Eugene Emeralds shutout bid by smacking a grand slam home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Sox opened their Northwest League campaign with a 4-2 victory Friday night at a frigid Funko Field.

Everett generated almost no offense through seven innings, managing just one base hit that left the infield as the Sox trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth. But wildness by Eugene reliever Cole Waites aided the Sox’s cause as a pair of walks loaded the bases. Then with two out, Packard fought off three two-strike pitches before lofting a high fly ball toward the short porch in right-center. The ball just cleared the fence to give Everett a three-run advantage.

Leon Hunter earned the win with one scoreless inning of relief. Evan Johnson picked up the save by allowing one run in the ninth.

Everett starting pitcher Isaiah Campbell worked constantly with runners on base, but managed to escape having allowed just one run in five innings. The right-hander, behind a fastball sitting at 91 mph, gave up four hits and four walks, striking out four.

Jairo Pomares and Marco Luciano each hit solo homers to lead Eugene.

Eugene starter Kyle Harrison was nearly unhittable during an abbreviated start. The left-hander allowed just two singles in four innings, striking out seven as he showed off a fastball that sat at 93 mph and a slider with bite.

The game was the first played by Everett using a pitch clock and finished in a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes. Most of the Sox’s games last season lasted longer than three hours.

Short hops

Everett is beginning the season with a five-man starting rotation. After Campbell it will be left-hander Adam Macko on Saturday and right-hander Bryce Miller on Sunday. Then when the Sox’s series at Hillsboro begins Tuesday it will be right-hander Jimmy Joyce followed by right-hander Tim Elliott. … Everett longtime radio broadcaster Pat Dillon, who’s been behind the microphone since 1998, will reach a milestone later this month when he calls his 2,000th game on April 26 at home against Spokane. That total includes 1,997 with the Sox, plus three Triple-A games when he served as a fill-in (Portland in 2005, Tacoma in 2016 and 2019). … Everett is facing a stacked Eugene roster that includes six of the San Francisco Giants’ top-10 prospects as determined by MLB.com, including shortstop Luciano, who is considered San Francisco’s No. 1 prospect and ranked No. 13 in all of baseball.

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