Emeralds can't ride yellow to winner's circle

Brooks Dunn

EUGENE- Not even the lucky yellow jerseys they had worn in their last three victories could save the Eugene Emeralds from the offensive attack and the pitching dominance of the Everett Aquasox on a 90 degree night at Civic Stadium.

Brooks Dunn was sharp through his first three innings, facing only one hitter over the minimum. Matching Dunn pitch for pitch, though, was his counterpart, Steve Uhlmansiek, who gave up five earned runs in 3.2 innings in his last outing against the Emeralds on July 10.

Through his first three innings of work, Uhlmansiek allowed only one Eugene hit, a hot shot past third base by Tom King, and two other baserunners while holding the Ems' recently hot lineup scoreless.

Working against both pitchers in that span was a rapidly climbing pitch count. Dunn used 38 pitches through the first third of the game while Uhlmansiek tallied with 43.

As it would turn out, the third would be the last effective inning Dunn would throw. He struggled in the fourth, allowing two men to get on, but stranding them both when Bryan Sabatella grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

He wouldn't be so lucky in the fifth.

After watching three in a row reach with one man down, manager Doug Dascenzo decided to pull the plug on Dunn. Instead of putting out Dunn's fire, Eugene reliever Ben Krosschell only added more fuel.

Dunn was taken out, according to manager Doug Dascenzo, because he had reached his pitch count, not because he didn't have confidence in his ability to get out of the jam.

"As a pitcher, you feel like if you get in a jam you want to get out of it. I trust Ben, Ben's come in fine before. I trust him, everybody trusts Ben. It was one of those things, it just happens. I want to say I could've gotten out of it, but I [also] want to say that on another day Ben could've gotten out of it. I want to be left in, but I know about pitch counts. We've been doing that all year. I understand why he took me out and it's not a big deal," Dunn explained.

Back-to-back walks to Villezcas and White by Krosschell brought home the first two Everett runs and left the bases loaded.

"I was just having trouble throwing strikes. Yeah, I was getting squeezed a little bit, but that's no excuse. The game of baseball's about throwing strikes and I was having trouble doing that," Krosschell admitted.

He struck out the next man looking, but then surrendered a bases-clearing double to designated hitter Manelik Pimental, putting the Ems down 5-0.

"I was just trying to a throw a strike. It's hard, you go in there and walk two guys in so basically all I'm thinking about is throwing a strike so he's probably thinking ‘all he wants to do is throw strikes' so he's sitting fastball waiting on it," Krosschell added.

In a deep hole, Eugene started digging in the bottom of the fifth.

Jesus Lopez walked to open the frame and Mike Epping and King did the same two outs later to load the bases for designated hitter Kody Valverde. Valverde drove a 1-1 pitch up the middle past a diving Dean Zorn into centerfield to plate the first two Eugene runs. Garner Wetzel struck out on three pitches to put an end to both the inning and the rally.

The score held at 5-2 for the next two innings thanks to a stellar relief appearance from Aaron Breit. This is how good Breit was: after swinging at a 2-1 fastball from Breit, Pimental headed back to the dugout. Only after being coaxed back to the plate by the home plate umpire did he return to complete his strikeout; Breit's fifth.

The Eugene offense tried to match Breit's mastery with a little magic of its ownin the bottom of the seventh. Epping doubled into the right field corner on the first pitch he saw and King followed with a walk to put men at first and second with nobody out. Valverde did all he could to drive at least one of the home, but his smash to third was snared there on a line by Leury Bonilla. A weak foul out to first by Chad Huffman and Wetzel's strikeout on a delayed call by umpire Clint Trauter kept Eugene off the board.

"You heard the fans out there screaming for us. Everybody in the ballpark knew he took his time on it. But hey, they're not perfect, they're going to miss calls, too. But that was a bad one," Dascenzo said.

The Aquasox tacked on one more in the ninth on a towering home run to left field by Bonilla.

Closer Kameron Mickolio tossed a perfect ninth to record his third save of the year and seal the victory for Everett.

Matt Buschmann, who has struck out the third most batters in the Northwest League, will take the mound tomorrow to try and win the series against Everett and close out the homestand on a positive note. Buschmann is 2-1 on the year with a 2.90 ERA. Everett will employ Dominican Republic native Natividad Dilone in its attempt to win the first half of the season series with Eugene. Dilone is 1-4 with a 4.70 ERA in seven starts this season. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

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