James Needy started for the first time since August 12. He has struggled in the past, but proved his worth in an exceptionally strong outing on Sunday. He went four innings and allowed just two hits and no runs. He struck out three and walked two.
After walking the first batter, Needy settled into a rhythm. Needy knew his starting pitching powered the Emeralds to the win.
"It's big. Every game is big," Needy said. "First game of the season, mid game of the season, last game of the season — it's always big. Any game you can get a W and add to that record helps out."
The Emeralds continue to benefit from strong relief pitching.
Simon Berroa, Daniel Cropper, Matt Stites and Chris Wilkes combined for five innings of scoreless ball. They allowed only one hit, Edwin Garcia's single off Cropper in the seventh. Cropper got the win.
"Big Jim Needy did a great job, then Berroa came in and gave us six up and six down," manager Pat Murphy said. "You guys saw the rest."
The Emeralds continue to struggle offensively. Even with the win, they scored only one on five hits. They left 10 men on base, and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"I told you a lot times we're not playing great baseball," Murphy said. "We're not playing great, but they did some things and I'm pleased we came out on top."
Despite their struggles, they got the run when it counted. In the seventh, Jose Dore led off with a single. Jace Peterson grounded into a fielder's choice, reaching first. Peterson then stole second to move into scoring position. Alberth Martinez struck out swinging for the second out. Casey McElroy came up with the timeliest hit of the game, a two-out single to left to score Peterson.
"They're pitching staff was electric today. They did a great job," Murphy said. "They pitched really well to us and we got some key hits. Jace Peterson did his thing. Stayed relaxed, stole a base in a big situation and McElroy came up with a big hit. That's all we could muster up."
They were unable to add to their lead, despite a big hit from Travis Whitmore. Whitmore led off the eighth with a triple, his fourth of the season, but they were unable to bring him home. Justin Miller ground out to shortstop, Matt Colantonio popped out to the catcher and Kyle Gaedele struck out to the end the inning.
The Emeralds now head to Yakima for the last regular season series. They will play five games against the Yakima Bears before the three-game playoff series.
Murphy is not underestimating the end of the season's importance to the team.
"We've got five games left. We're not going to sail through like nothing," Murphy said. "Yakima's the hottest team other than us in the Northwest League. They've got older players and smart players that played at good college programs."