That was the case Tuesday at Civic Stadium in Eugene as the Emeralds fell 1-0 to the Spokane Indians in a pitcher’s duel that resulted in zeros across the board until the eighth inning when the Indians’ Craig Gentry scored from third on a passed ball to provide all the breathing room his team needed.
“If you’re going to win those ball games, you have to play a clean nine innings,” Eugene manager Doug Dascenzo admitted. “If not, you are going to lose 1-0…Again, if we catch the baseball, he (Gentry) doesn’t score.”
The Emeralds mustered just three hits on the night but were able to make things interesting in the ninth. Down 1-0, Matt Antonelli drew a two out walk and stole second during David Freese’s at bat. Freese eventually hit a 0-2 pitch to the Indians’ Nick Cadena at third base in what looked like a routine, inning-ending ground ball.
But Cadena fumbled it and did not attempt a throw. The next batter, Craig Cooper, then walked to load the bases, but Emeralds’ catcher Luany Sanchez swung at a 1-2 pitch high in the zone and grounded out to second to end the threat and the game.
The loss erases a brilliant performance by both Eugene pitchers Aaron Breit and Brooks Dunn. Breit went four innings, allowing three hits, and no runs while striking out four and walking none. Dunn was just as impressive in his five innings of work. He recorded the loss despite giving up only three hits and no earned runs. He struck out three.
“They did a hell-of-a job tonight, and it’s nice to see that,” Dascenzo said. “Hopefully the guys can feed of that and start stringing it together. They did an outstanding job.”
Unfortunately for Eugene, which fell to 5-4 on the year, Spokane’s trio of pitchers was just as effective on this night. Starter Michael Wagner pitched five innings, striking out six and surrendering only two hits. Glen Swanson, his replacement, struck out three and allowed only one hit in three innings to pick up the victory, while Brett Zamzow came on in the ninth to record the save.
“We only got three hits tonight and that’s typically not us. We know that, the kids know that, and we are going to be fine,” Dascenzo remarked.
Luany Sanchez, Santiago Guerrero and Luke Cannon each went 1-for-3 to lead the Emeralds’ offensively, butEugene was unable to get a man past second until the sixth inning against Swanson.
Cannon led off with a double and advanced to third after the next batter, Nick Kliebert, hit a chopper back to the pitcher for the first out of the inning. Leadoff hitter, Ray Stokes then struck out and Antonelli grounded to first base to leave Cannon at third and end the threat.
The Emeralds stranded five total runners on the night.
The Indians didn’t fare any better, leaving six runners on base. Spokane managed just six hits in the game led by designated hitter Nick Cadena and second baseman Johnny Washington, who each had two hits.
Spokane’s first threat came in the seventh inning when first baseman Chris Kemp led off with a double and advanced to third with one out before the Emeralds’ Brooks Dunn struck out the next two batters.
The eighth inning provided the only offense and, fittingly, the deciding play was delivered from the mound on a night that was dominated by the pitchers.
In the inning, the Indians’ Johnny Washington led off with a single. Craig Gentry then hit a groundball to Stokes who threw to second to get the lead runner. But the Emeralds were unable to turn the double play.
That proved costly.
Gentry stole second with the next batter, Nick Cadena, at the plate. Cadena eventually grounded out to Antonelli at third for the second out of the inning. That brought up Grant Gerrard. Gentry again got a good jump and stole third. Gerrard worked the count full and Dunn delivered a pitch for strike three. But the ball skipped off the catcher Sanchez’s glove for a passed ball, allowing Gentry to score the winning run.
The loss sends the Emeralds to last place behind the surging Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants) and Everett AquaSox (Mariners). Both are off to a hot start at 8-1.
The Emeralds and Indians conclude their five-game series tomorrow at Civic Stadium with the first pitch scheduled at 7:05 p.m. Eugene then embarks on a three-game road trip to take on the Vancouver Canadians (Athletics) before returning home to host the Volcanoes on July 2.
Listen to the post-game interview with Dascenzo: Listen to Audio