Coming off a road trip in which they scored only eight runs of total offense, the Eugene Emeralds needed to come out early and establish themselves offensively. In the bottom of the second, it looked as if Eugene would do just that.
Shortstop Tom King started the inning by drawing a four-pitch walk from Vancouver starter Scott Deal. Luke Cannon followed with a checked-swing single past third baseman Valdez, who was playing on the dirt to guard against the possibility of the sacrifice bunt. The rally quickly snuffed, however, when the next three hitters were retired on a fly to right, a swinging strikeout and a pop to second.
That was the closest Eugene would come to sniffing home plate for the rest of the evening.
Vancouver started its scoring in the top of the third when left fielder and ninth hitter Andre Piper-Jordan led off with a line-drive single just over the glove of leaping shortstop Tom King. Leadoff man Larry Cobb followed three pitches later with a single into right, moving Piper-Jordan to third. Shortstop Samuel Hernandez drove home the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Piper-Jordan from third without a throw. Cobb, who had stayed at first on the sac fly, stole second and advanced to third when catcher Luany Sanchez’s throw sailed into center field. Right fielder Matt Sultentic walked on four pitches to put runners at the corners, this time with one out, for Vancouver cleanup man Greg Dowling.
Dowling lofted a fly ball into the glove of right fielder Garner Wetzel who promptly threw a bullet to first base where Craig Cooper tagged out Sultentic, who had been standing at second base when the ball was caught. The run was able to score from third, however, because the tag was applied on Sultentic after Cobb had already crossed the plate.
Those two runs were all the Canadians would need on this night, but consecutive RBI singles by Hernandez and Dowling would push the lead to 4-0. A wild pitch two batters later by reliever Rolando Valdez allowed Hernandez to trot home with the fifth and final run of the game.
After their threat in the second, the Ems would only get two more runners into scoring position, but clutch Canadian pitching stranded both runners at second to help preserve Vancouver’s second shutout of the season.
With the whitewashing, Eugene has scored a combined one run over its last 40 innings. Despite the lack of scoring, the team will not get down on itself, starting pitcher Aaron Breit says.
“We’ve just got to keep fighting and pitching well and hitters will come through.”
For all their offensive woes Saturday, the Ems, like Breit noted, did pitch very well.
Breit and relievers Matt Farrington and Brooks Dunn combined to allow only three hits and two earned runs while striking out five Canadians over 7.1 sharp innings.
In other Emeralds news, Matt Antonelli has been out of action since July 20 with what manager Doug Dascenzo describes as a “contusion of his right, middle, ring, pinky finger.” Antonelli should return to action in three to four days, Dascenzo said. Brian Lauderdale has moved into the third base role while Antonelli has been out of action. Additionally, left fielder Chad Huffman missed Saturday’s game with an unspecified injury.
The two clubs play game two of the three game set tomorrow. Eugene will throw southpaw Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 3.71 ERA) against Vancouver righty T.J. Franco, Jr. (1-0, 3.33) Game time is 4:05 p.m.