Chris Sorce’s conversion from closer to starting pitcher looks like sheer inspiration.
Sorce (1-0) worked six strong innings Saturday night as the Everett AquaSox (8-1) continued their steady march through the Northwest League with a 6-2 win over the Spokane Indians to open a five-game series.
Sorce struck out six, walked none and silenced the Indians after a two-run first inning, mirroring his season-opening start against Yakima.
“The (Seattle Mariners) organization obviously sees me as a potential starter, and I believe in the organization,” Sorce said after keeping the Indians (1-7) winless at Avista Stadium.
That wasn’t always the case. Sorce was a closer during the junior season at Troy (Ala.) University and worked out of the bullpen last summer in Pulaski (Va.) of the Appalachian League.
His secret this season has been keeping runners off base, at least after the first inning. Sorce has 11 strikeouts and one walk in 12 innings.
“I’ve been working on getting ahead of batters,” said the native Floridian. “It’s a lot different being a starter than being a closer. Good things happen when you get ahead in the count.”
Sorce allowed a first-inning home run to Yakima in his initial start. The Indians also nicked him in the first, on Brett Nicholas’ two-out, two-run single. Nicholas, a left-hander from the University of Missouri, hit the ball to the opposite field on the first pitch he saw as a professional.
Sorce and reliever Forrest Snow clamped down in the final seven innings, allowing two singles. Snow pitched three hitless innings, striking out three, and hasn’t allowed a hit with Everett in 51/3 innings.
Sorce gave much of the credit for his success to Everett’s defense, which played errorless ball.
“Throwing strikes is important,” he said. “It’s important to have (opposing batters) put the ball in play and let the defense do its work. … It’s easy to pitch when you have a defense like this.”
Indians starter Zach Osborne (0-2), a ninth-round selection this month from Louisiana-Lafayette, allowed four hits and three earned runs in three innings.
Spokane relievers Jimmy Reyes and Tim Stanford kept the game within reach. The AquaSox went hitless from the third through the seventh innings except for a bunt single.
But the Indians’ hopes slipped away in the eighth, when Everett scored three runs on an error, two hits, two walks and a wild pitch.
Spokane lost its fourth consecutive game, but has not been outhit in any of them.
Indians first baseman Andrew Clark went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to .407.
Four Indians were reassigned after the team returned from Vancouver. Pitcher Denny Peralta and catcher Carson Vitale were sent to the Arizona rookie league, and pitchers Samuel Brown and Johan Yan were promoted to Hickory (N.C.) of the South Atlantic League. … Spokane’s home rainout last Sunday was its first full-game rainout in nearly six years.