Offense struggles as North Sound Emeralds blank Highline Bears, 3-0

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By Luke Olson

It was not long ago head coach Josh Evans would make his case that reliever A.J. Palmer could possibly get some starts for the Highline Bears in the near future after an impressive performance in their second game of the year against Northwest Honkers on June 3. He came in to relieve with just one out in the first inning after starter Nick Horn could not find his command.

And on Friday night (June 15), Evans made that a reality. With so many pitchers on the disabled list for the Bears, Palmer was handed the start on Friday night against the North Sound Emeralds and provided a quality outing for the Bears. It was not the most impressive stat line, but it was enough to give the offense a chance, but they weren’t able to deliver. The Emeralds blanked the Bears 3-0.

“I didn’t have my best stuff—below-average,” A.J. Palmer said. “I couldn’t find it with the curveball—got in a little trouble early and just couldn’t get out of it.”

Palmer started the game in not the most intriguing way for the Bears, but was able to fight his way through it.

After Alex Bryner would make a marvelous catch in deep center for the first out of the game, the next batter would work a 3-2 count and take Palmer deep to right center field and both Bryner and Blaine Wagner watched it soar over the fence for the first run of the game. Palmer recorded the second out on a grounder to third but gave up back to back singles and hitting a batter to get himself in a bases-loaded jam. Trey Tiffany for the Emeralds would hit a soft grounder to Chase Anderson at short, but was not quick enough for the throw and the Bears got out of the enduring inning just giving up the lone run.

“That was huge,” Palmer stated. “That was a turning point in the game. I feel like it would have just kept going down-hill if I didn’t get out of that inning.”

This won’t be a routine thing to have Palmer start on the mound for the Bears. With a few pitchers transitioning from injuries, the Bears are thin on the pitching staff. Palmer, being so reliable out of the pen—Evans wants to keep him in his role, but can expect a few starts here and there.

“I expect him to go back in the bullpen,” Evans said. “Get a spot start here and but he is definitely a guy coming out of the bullpen.”

“He is a solid pitcher and has a lot of good stuff. He has done well this year for us.”

North Sound tacked on runs in the fourth and the seventh for Palmer to finish his night with 6.1 innings, seven hits, three runs (all earned), two walks and five strikeouts. But, he was outdueled by the Emeralds starter, Mac Larson.

Larson pitched seven strong innings against the Bears. He would allow just three hits—all singles—two walks, four strikeouts and no runs allowed. The Bears struggled to get hits on the board—or put runners in scoring position. Lots of contact was made—but were never in the right spots.

“We are continuing to work in batting practice,” Evans said. “Maintaining the focus where we have to get better each and every day—we are not giving up.”

It was Highline’s second game in a row without scoring a single run. They were had just two runners in scoring position and in both situations, shortstop Anderson had an opportunity to put a number on the board for the Bears—but would strikeout both times to end the inning.

“It’s frustrating, he is definitely a guy that can hit,” Evans said. “Definitely a guy I want in that situation, but just didn’t execute tonight.”

The Bears had five hits on the night—two coming from Bryner.

Pitchers Colton Borg, Jarrett Hite and Mason Harris allowed just one hit in relief and one walk combined.

AND…the Seafair Pirates will be there!

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

More info here:

Mel Olsen Stadium is located at 1321 SW 102nd Street in White Center:

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