Saturday, August 23, 2008

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 4, Everett AquaSox 3

August 22, 2008

Everett Memorial Stadium, home of the Everett AquaSox, has undergone significant upgrades since Weisenheimer's last visit. That visit occurred, somewhat inexplicably, some 18 or so years ago when the club was still the Giants and owned by Bob Bavasi, brother of recently deposed Mariners GM Bill and part of the Bavasi baseball clan headed by Buzzie Bavasi until his death earlier this year. The park is part of the Everett School District sports complex that has been used by the city's Northwest League club since its beginnings in 1984. Weisenheimer attended many a Giants game while living in the region and working at KRKO radio in Everett. Somehow the trek from West Seattle to Everett Memorial Stadium seems much longer than the 30 or so miles it actually is.

The main difference is the grandstand, concession, and press box area, which we remember as on the ramshackle side. Pictured above, it's been re-done in a lovely brick, with most of the concession and souvenir stands built into permanent homes thereunder, whereas most were separate shacks along the walkways in days of yore.

As big-spending high rollers from out of town, we sprung for seats in the "Key Bank Diamond Club," a whopping $15 per seat. We ordered them on-line less than 24 hours before game time, and scored seats in section E, row 2. This got us about 30 feet from home plate for an up-close look at the action. A major advantage of the Diamond Club was at-your-seat wait service: Ashley went and got our hot dogs, beer, and nachos for us. We haven't has such service in the other parks, though we may have been unaware of special service sections therein.

Also, we found the folks in the "club" the chattiest so far on our Northwest League circuit, particularly a senior citizen pair I guessed to be mother and daughter who were obviously regulars, big AquaSox fans who bellowed "Yay, Name" each time Name was announced as the next Everett batter.

When I describe our ballpark tour to others they often ask me if my sweetie, the official scorer for all games we attend, has to be "dragged" along to the ballpark. The fact that Frau Weisenheimer is the official scorer should be clue number one. Clue number two is her shoes, pictured above. Amazingly, another senior lady fan spotted them and, by gosh, she was wearing the same style shoes, though hers were so scuffed up one wondered if they were made from a baseball once used by Don Sutton. My sweetie has been talking about doing scans of her scoresheets to include on the Weisenheimer blog. I don't think that's necessary, as probably we're the only ones looking at the darn thing, anyway and can just look at the paper versions any time. But she sees a practical side. "If the house burns down," she says, "we'll still have our happy memories." So yes, our enjoyment of baseball is mutual.

The Game
The contest between the AquaSox and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes provided a good lesson in just how far players in the short-season class-A Northwest League have to go before they get to the show. Everett's starter was Chris Jakubauskas, who was down on an injury rehab assignment from Tacoma of the AAA Pacific Coast League. (This made us wonder where A-ball players go on their rehab assignments. My sweetie suggested that they must go to the local parks and rec league.) Jakubauskas himself is an interesting story. Not exactly a young prospect, he'll be 30 in December. He played some first base and outfield for the University of Oklahoma back in the day, converted to pitching, and apparently kicked around the independent leagues before the Mariners signed him as a minor league free agent last year. In 2007 he had a fairly undistinguished record with West Tennessee of the AA Southern League. This year he compiled a 0.83 ERA in six starts at WT and fanned 24 while walking just seven in 33 innings. Moving up to Tacoma he has a 2.90 ERA in nine starts and has struck out 35 and walked 14 in 50 innings. "Jak," as I'll call him from here on out, was way too much for the Volcanoes. On a pitch count for his rehab start, he worked 2 2/3 innings, gave up just one hit, allowed no walks, and struck out seven. He threw 32 strikes and nine balls. The only non-K out he logged was a can-of-corn fly ball to left by the last batter he faced, SK center fielder Caleb Curry.

Meantime Orlando Yntema was hanging up goose eggs for Salem-Keizer as well. While not so dominating as Jak, Yntema seemed to relish letting AquaSox reach base and then getting them to hit into double plays, which they did three times in his five innings of work.

The contest zipped right along with nobody getting or staying on base in the early going. The Volcanoes finally broke through for the first runs of the game in the bottom of the fifth against Everett reliever Walter Suriel. Left fielder Casey Bond doubled with two out, and Curry ripped a shot over the scoreboard in right-center for a homer and 2-0 lead. Salem-Keizer added on in the seventh. With one out catcher Johnny Monell doubled into the gap in left center, much to the chagrin of the fan sitting behind Weisenheimer, who felt Everett left fielder Brandon Fromm was playing way too shallow and advised playing much deeper. It's easier to come in on the ball, you know. When the next batter, second baseman Ryan Lormand, hit a long fly ball for a double down the left field line, same fan let out a Kafkaesque wail of, "No, no, no, no, no, no, nooooooo..." followed by further admonishment to play a little deeper. Monell scored and it was 3-0. After Bond whiffed, Curry hit a hard bounder toward third base that clanked off the glove of Jharmidy DeJesus and went for what the authorities at the park generously ruled another double. My sweetie, the true official scorer (and a damn strict one) gave DeJesus an error. In any case, Lormand scored and it was 4-0 Salem-Keizer.

DeJesus marginally made up for his muff in the bottom of the seventh, working a one-out walk to ignite a mini-rally by the AquaSox. With two out first baseman Manelik Pimentel was hit by a pitch, and right fielder Welington Dotel grounded a seeing-eye single up the middle to plate DeJesus to make it 4-1. Second baseman Anthony Phillips popped out to second to end the threat with two men on.

The score remained at 4-1 until the bottom of the ninth, when Volcano manager Tom Trebelhorn inserted Justin Fitzgerald to close it out. DeJesus led off with a single, and shortstop Ben Billingsley ripped a towering high drive to right field that had about the longest hang time of any fly ball we'd ever seen until it landed behind the right field fence for a two-run homer that made it 4-3. Pimentel then worked Fitzgerald for a walk (one could hear Trebelhorn's teeth grinding; we were that close!) and Dotel bunted the potential tying run down to second. But Phillips grounded to second for the second out, and center fielder Tyson Gillies grounded out first to pitcher for the final out.

Salem-Keizer won despite being out-hit 8-5 and striking out 16 times. In addition to Jak's seven, Suriel fanned six in his 4 1/3 innings of work, and Doug Salinas struck out the side in the ninth.

Weisenheimer has not been good for the AquaSox. We've seen them play three times this year and they've lost them all: this game, a drubbing down in Eugene Aug. 2, and a 15-3 loss on opening day in Spokane in the dark, sad ages before West Seattle Weisenheimer became a blog. The AquaSox's slogan is "Tomorrow's Mariners, Today's Fun!" We had a lot of fun, but the future for the Mariners isn't looking much brighter than the present.

Box score

1 comment:

Sweetie the Scorer said...

The lovely lady who followed me to my seat wanted to know where I got my obviously much newer Keds Leather Pennant Sneakers so she could replace her wonderfully worn pair. I spotted mine at Nordstrom a season or two ago; alas, according to www.keds.com, they are no longer available. Let's start a letter writing campaign to bring 'em back!