Eugene lose chance at NWL title shot

Jace Peterson

Eugene, Ore: The Eugene Emeralds took on the Vancouver Canadians for game three of the Northwest League's West Division Championship Wednesday night at PK Park.

The comeback kids weren't able to muster up another walk-off just like they had done so many times all season. They trailed, as much as 5-0 at one point to only have themselves in a position to win in the bottom of the ninth.

The season was not a failure by any means. The Emeralds had the most first-year players of any team in the league and were able to win both halves of the season. They made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, but were unable to make it to the big dance.

"It hurts, but we'll all be playing baseball still. Tomorrow will be a better day. Yeah it is a lot to soak in and it hurts," Jace Peterson said. "Wish it could of went the other way, but it didn't unfortunately. We hope to just get stronger from it."

The beginning of the game didn't go as planned for starter Colin Rea. Rea was able to record the first out, but struggled from there to give up a base hit and a walk. It looked as though he was going to be able to get out of the inning unharmed after he struck out the next batter, but Roan Salas ripped a ball to right field for the first score of the game. After the bases were loaded on a walk, Balbino Fuenmayor's base hit up the middle increased the Canadians lead to 3-0. Rea was able to finish the inning by striking out the last batter.

Rea's night ended early after issuing a lead off walk in the top of the second. Rea finished the night with one inning pitched, three hits, four runs, two strikeouts and three walks. Reliever Will Scott came into the game and struck out his first batter, but gave up a RBI double to the next batter.

The Canadians scored another run in the top of the third on a huge hit and run that landed in for a double. Scott was able to get out of the inning with only giving up one run. The Canadians scored a run in every inning through three.

After being no hit for the first four and two-thirds innings, the Emeralds finally got their first hit of the game on a Peterson double. After the double, starter Aaron Sanchez's night was over. He went four and two-thirds innings, while allowing only one hit, zero runs and striking out eight. The Emeralds had runners on second and third but were unable to push a run across for the second time.

The Emeralds started off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit and a double and scored their first run on an infield ground out. The Emeralds were not able to capitalize from there as the next two batters went down in order.

The Emeralds kept the momentum in their favor by getting runners on second and third with two outs. Casey McElroy battled with two strikes and came through with a two-RBI base hit and cutting the lead to 5-3.

After the Canadians scored every inning for the first three innings, they didn't record a hit until the ninth and didn't score for the rest of the game.

When it looked as if the Emeralds were all done, they loaded the bases on two walks and a base hit. After a Jose Dore fielder's choice, the Emeralds cut the lead to one and had runners on second and third. The Canadians intentionally walked McElroy to load the bases once again. Whitmore struck out looking on a questionable strike call, which led to his ejection. Matt Colantonio hit a ball hard up the middle, but it would be the game ending ground ball.

"We had some good at-bats late. We came around started to swing a little better as a team. Unfortunately it just didn't happen for us," Peterson said.

Peterson led the way for the Emeralds offensively as he went 3-5 with a double. Peterson is one of the few Emeralds who stayed with the team all year. Manager Pat Murphy talked about what it was like to watch him grow this season.

"He grows on you so much. He is such a likeable person and such a great competitor. It was really special the way he did come on. He has a long future," Murphy said.

Murphy wasn't just proud of Peterson, he was proud of his whole team.

"He did things our way. We learned about winning baseball," Murphy said. "I am proud to say that I was apart of that group. I have been at it a lot of years and this group had a little but something that you like being around."

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