Pitching leads Eugene over Yakima

Chris Wilkes

Eugene, OR: The Eugene Emeralds offense has received the majority of attention during the first third of the 2011 season.

But on Sunday, it was the pitching that commanded the game and held a slim lead until the Emeralds' offense delivered late for an 8-1 victory over the Yakima Bears at PK Park. The Emeralds currently hold a 5 ½ game lead over the Vancouver Canadians in the Northwest League.

"It was a good pitching performance," manager Pat Murphy said. "Thank goodness we broke the game open. We had a lot of opportunities early and didn't break the game open. (We) couldn't get the big hit early and got it later."

The Emeralds (20-4) 2011 12th round draft choice, Colin Rea, had not allowed more that two runs in any of his four previous starts. In his fifth start of the season, he spent his four inning of work finagling his way out of jams.

Rea stranded seven Bears (7-17) runners, beginning with working out of a bases loaded situation in the first inning. Rea issued two walks, three hits, struck out two, and didn't allow a run for the third outing this season.

"He didn't have his best stuff, but certainly he used his competitiveness and his ‘pitchability' to survive," manager Pat Murphy said.

Rea's 1.17 ERA leads the Emeralds starting pitchers and ranks him second in the Northwest League.

The five innings of work from the Emeralds bullpen was nearly flawless with the only blemish coming in the fifth inning from an RBI single by Zach Jones off of Luis De La Cruz.

Cruz and Chris Wilkes, who each worked two innings, and Kevin Quackenbush, who worked the ninth inning, combined to not allow a hit after the fifth inning.

Quackenbush, the Emeralds closer, has yet to allow a run this season.

"Our bullpen has been great," catcher Jeremy Rodriguez said. "It's kind of funny, because we're short on bullpen right now, but the guys that we have they just hit their spots and come into key situations and they get the job done, and that's what the bullpen is suppose to do."

While able to score four runs in the first four innings, it was not a result of the Ems typically ferocious offense.

Yakima starting pitcher John Pedrotty was looking for his first win in his fourth start of the year but was plagued by a lack of command through his 2 2/3 innings of work.

Pedrotty had only issued six walks in 12 1/3 innings pitched this season, and was able to match that in his short outing.

He walked to first two Ems hitters of the second inning, and an attempted sacrifice bunt that resulted in a hit by Mike Gallic loaded the bases for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was the third of four batters walked in the inning, which also brought home the first Emeralds run.

Despite having the bases loaded and no outs, Eugene could not plate another run, as Pedrotty would escape the inning after a Jorge Minyety double play and later a Mykal Stokes ground out.

"We've had a lot of opportunities lately, but just haven't been great at doing it, but thankful today that they did come through," Murphy said.

The Emeralds four-run seventh inning was highlighted by Minyety's RBI triple and singles from Kyle Gaedele, Jace Peterson and Rodriguez.

The Emeralds' first round draft selection in 2011, Cory Spangenberg, has seemed to come back to earth after his dynamic start to the year. He has still posted a .520 on-base percentage in his last 10 games, and was 1-for-4 with a double in Sunday's game.

"We're grateful we came away with a victory, because when (Spangenberg) is not on all cylinders—he's carried us for how many games? He's been as good of a player as you could ever ask for, and he's sputtering a little bit. He's still causing havoc, but he's sputtering a little bit."

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