The AquaSox got off to an early 2-0 lead in Keizer, but spent the rest of the night in a see-saw battle with the Volcanoes, ending with a walk-off fielder's choice in the bottom of the ninth. Everett tied the game with a run in the top of the ninth off of S-K closer Joseph Edens but Travis Howell grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to leave the game tied. With one out in the bottom of the inning and the bases loaded, Sox 2nd baseman Luis Nunez tried to turn two on a slow ground ball and the throw by George Soto to first was not nearly in time, allowing the winning run to score from third base.
Here are some impressions I had of some of the AquaSox players as I watched them tonight:
Brett Lorin was the starting pitcher. He's an intimidating presence on the mound at 6'7" and 245 pounds. The M's 5th-round pick this year consistently reached 88-90 on his fastball with a couple of readings of 91. The fastball didn't have much movement to it but it was well located. He threw first-pitch strikes to the first 10 hitters and 16 of 21 overall. He has a wicked hook that is deadly when located well, but he doesn't seem to have great command of that pitch. He was throwing it 73-76, but when he was off with it he was way off. He hit a batter in the 2nd inning with the curve that came around to score. He threw 78 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, 57 for strikes. The high strike ratio is nice and he struck out 6 batters, but because he had to throw his fastball so often that allowed some of the Salem hitters to get good swings on him. He didn't strike out any of the last 8 hitters he faced. I think Lorin has some potential if he can get some command of his off-speed stuff. His line overall:
4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Aaron Brown threw 3 innings in relief, hitting 86-88 on the fastball. Brown is another tall body, at 6'6", but he weighs just 200 pounds. Brown's in his 2nd season with the AquaSox. He mixed in an off-speed pitch that looked like a tight slider of some sort. He was throwing that in the upper 70s. Brown kept the ball down and most of the balls in play against him were on the ground.
Phil Hann came on in the eighth inning and got out of a jam with a runner on 2nd base and 1 out. He got 2 consecutive fly outs to put down the threat. Hann was throwing in the low-to-mid 80s and the S-K hitters were elevating the ball off of him. He got 3 straight flyouts after entering the game, but then he allowed consecutive line drive singles that eventually led to the winning run. Hann was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Cal State Northridge. I'm not sure that he looks like a guy who's going to get very far in the stystem.
Nate Tenbrink had some good swings tonight. The 3rd baseman was drafted in the 7th round this year by the M's out of Kansas State. He singled twice and hit a deep fly ball about 395 feet to straight-away center that was chased down and caught by S-K center fielder Caleb Curry (it was an MLB-quality web gem). Nate didn't get much action in the field. He did hesitate a bit on a ball hit to him in the 3rd inning that allowed the runner to beat his throw to 1st.
I liked watching George Soto play tonight, even though he went 0-4 at the plate. At 6'3", Soto is tall for a shortstop. He kind of reminds me of Edgar Renteria. He moves well and covered a lot of ground. He committed a throwing error, though it was on a ball up the middle that some MLB shortstops wouldn't even get to. At only 19, he should grow into his body and maybe his skills will develop to match his athleticism (his fielding % is just over .900 for his careers). As a shortstop, though, he's behind Carlos Triunfel in the organization (who's also only 19).
Nobody else stood out too much. Luis Nunez did make a mental mistake with the bases loaded and 1 out in the 9th inning, electing to try and turn a double play on a ground ball that was not well hit. With the winning run on 3rd, Nunez needed to go to the plate with just about any ground ball there, even if it was hit hard. Wellington Dotel took a bad route to a ball in right field that turned a single into a triple and a run against his team.
I'll be in Keizer the next 2 nights watching these teams play the rest of their series. Stay tuned for more updates.