Emeralds take fifth straight

Matt Colantonio

Eugene, Ore: The Eugene Emeralds beat the Spokane Indians again Saturday night at PK Park, 5-1. They have now won five straight games and after Everett's loss are in first place.

Pitching and defense wins championships and the Emeralds pitching and defense has been remarkable as of late. After their win Saturday, the Emeralds have won nine games in a row when they have held their opponents to four runs or less. They also have not committed an error in four straight.

The pitchers get all the glory and light up a box score, but it is the Emerald's catcher that Manager Pat Murphy gives the credit to for his staff's recent dominance.

"The guy you got to give a lot of credit to is Matt Colantonio because Colantonio does a great job back there. He is really underrated for what he does for a team," Murphy said. " Any manager will tell you. You got that catcher that can call pitches and catcher that can understand his pitching staff. He does a great job. He helps this team more than anyone knows."

The key to the Emeralds success also has to do with their ability to minimize the walks they give up.

"This is the time of year when fastball location is key. You're not going to throw a ball by people this time of the year," Murphy said. " If you locate you realize, wow, I am getting a groundball out there instead of thinking you have to squeeze that fastball in there."

In the top of the third, the Indians would strike first. After a leadoff walk, the Indians strung together three base hits over the next four batters. Starter Will Scott was able to get out of the inning only giving up one run. The Indians had the lead for the first time all series.

The Emeralds didn't let the Indians lead last long, as they tied it back up in the bottom of the third. Matt Colantonio led off with a base hit up the middle and Alberth Martinez followed up with a bunt for a base hit. With runners on first and second, Jose Dore reached base on a fielder's choice. Runners were on the corners and Jace Peterson came through with the sacrifice fly to tie the ball game, but the inning would end as Dore was thrown out trying to take second.

Scott took control after his rough third inning by retiring seven Indians in a row. He finished by going five innings, giving up one run and striking out five. Reliever Kyle Brule came into the game to relieve Scott by retiring all six batters he faced.

The Emeralds were able to capitalize on the Indians pitching change in the bottom of the sixth. Richard Alvarez came in to relieve starter, Nicholas McBride. Alvarez started off the sixth by giving up a base hit, walked two batters in a row and then hit the next batter to give the Emeralds the lead. Daunel Jones broke open the game with a two-out line drive up the middle to increase the Emeralds lead to 4-1.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Emeralds added an insurance run when Casey McElroy brought in Peterson on his RBI double to make the score 5-1. McElroy's double was the first extra base hit of the game for both ball clubs and would be the only.

The Indians were able to get two base runners on in the top of the ninth, but were unable to capitalize. The Emeralds' pitching staff shut down the Indian's offense, as they didn't allow a base hit after the third inning.

"We are trying to get hot for the playoffs and play good baseball and right now that's what we are doing," Peterson said. "We are extremely confident. The pitchers are throwing great, we are making some plays behind him and we're swinging the bat well too. So hopefully we can keep it all going and keep pulling it together and come out with a victory in the playoffs."

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