Eugene, Vancouver series tied at 1-1

Mark Pope

Eugene, Or: The Eugene Emeralds were unable to clinch a berth in the Championship round, losing 10-3 to the Vancouver Canadians Tuesday night. The Canadians broke it open in the sixth, scoring eight runs on six hits.

The Canadians started off with a bang, as Jon Berti led off the game with a solo home run. Balbino Fuenmayor hit another solo home run in the second to put the Canadians up 2-0.

Emeralds starting pitcher Mark Pope only gave up these two hits, but they proved to be enough to give him the loss. Pope had a strong outing besides those two pitches. He went five innings, allowing two hits and two runs. He struck out one and walked none on 61 pitches.

"He did well enough to win tonight. I mean, two hits," manager Pat Murphy said. "The momentum we had yesterday, the way we played was great."

The Emeralds held their own in the early innings, scoring in the bottom of the first. Justin Miller got a one out walk, and moved to third on Casey McElroy's single. Travis Whitmore followed with a walk to load the bases, and Matt Colantonio hit into a fielders choice to score Miller from third.

They did not score again until the sixth, adding one run. The Emeralds added another run in the eighth but were unable to make a significant comeback.

The relief pitching was shaky for the Emeralds, and they used five pitchers to cover the last four innings. James Jones, Luis De La Cruz and Kyle Brule each lasted only 1/3 of an inning. Jones gave up two runs, De La Cruz gave up three runs, and Brule gave up three runs for a rough sixth inning. A total of 53 pitches were thrown during the sixth alone. All eight Volcanoes runs came with two outs.

"That's baseball. Our starters are on a pitch count and that's unfortunate. But that's more important right now. And we had to use some of our pen yesterday for the same reason," Murphy said. "We had some of our starters who have been great. And we couldn't take them into the sixth or seventh. But in those situations, you have to put in guys that are less experienced. Its unfortunate."

The Emeralds pitching improved, but the damage was already done. Warren Slack and Simon Berroa combined for three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

"We like our chances. I'm gonna choose to believe in these guys. I know there's a lot of fatigue, we are the youngest team in the league, or have the most first year players in the league," Murphy said. "And I know they're fatigued and I know yesterday was a long trip for both teams … We're 1-1 going into the game tomorrow. I hope the fans realize what these guys have done this year. We're nine or more innings away from playing for the championship so I would hope we come out and play with the same energy and get things going our way."

The Emeralds will send Colin Rea to the mound for tomorrow night's decisive third game. Rea is 3-4 with a 2.21 ERA. Vancouver will counter with Aaron Sanchez, who is 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA.

The Emeralds hope to clinch the NWL title for the first time since 1975. If the Emeralds do move onto the Championship Round, they will host game one of the three-game Championship Series against the winner of the Boise Hawks versus Tri-City Dust Devils series.

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