Not that it mattered. They could have hit their knees from sundown until game time and they still wouldn’t have had a prayer against the Ems’ combination of stifling pitching, stellar defense and explosive offense.
Eugene starter Drew Miller was dominant over his six innings of work. The right-hander from Seminole State University had a no-hitter for five and two-thirds innings before finally allowing a ground ball double to leadoff hitter Matt Camp. That was the only blemish on Miller’s otherwise remarkable afternoon.
Through his first five innings, Miller was the definition of economical.
In those five frames, the Ada, Okla. native never threw more than 11 pitches in an inning. He threw that amount in the first and second innings, seven in the third, 10 in the fourth and eight in the fifth. By contrast, Boise starter Mark Pawelek threw 12 pitches to Tom King during his at-bat in the second inning.
After the game, Miller attributed his performance to a combination of a lively fastball, an effective changeup and overanxious Boise batters.
“I had good command of the fastball and changeup. That’s all I needed today.”
One only needed a radar gun to realize that Miller was particularly on his game Sunday afternoon.
Members of the Emeralds’ pitching staff, who were charting the pitches in the stands, noted that his fastball, which normally tops out in the upper-80s, was touching as high as 94 miles per hour several times during the game.
“Whenever it gets 0-2, you know you want put a little bit more on it,” Miller explained.
Pitching was only one ingredient in Sunday’s recipe for victory. Included in the mix was a heavy serving of potent lumber.
Although they only needed two runs for victory, Eugene’s offense provided Miller with 10 loud runs of support.
King, who, along with Miller, was named co-Big Town Hero of the Game, got on base in all his five plate appearances including two singles, a double and two walks with two runs scored.
“In pro ball, I don’t think I’ve been on five times. In college, I’m sure I have,” King said.
Already up 3-0 on RBI hits from Garner Wetzel and Craig Cooper and a run-scoring fielder’s choice off the bat of Brian Lauderdale, Eugene broke the game wide open in the fifth inning.
After Willy Crafort, Wetzel and catcher Matt Stocco used two singles and an error to load the bases, third baseman Abraham Aguilar lined a single just over the leap of Boise shortstop Matt Matulia to bring both Crafort and Wetzel to the dish.
Three batters and a run-scoring wild-pitch later, the bases were juiced a second time in the inning for cleanup man Craig Cooper.
Eugene’s first baseman used every ounce of strength his six-foot-two-inch, 210-pound frame could muster to flare a broken-bat two-run single over the second baseman and into shallow right-center field, plating Aguilar and King and putting the game well out of the newly grounded Hawks’ reach.
Eugene used an RBI single from Lauderdale in the sixth and a solo bomb from Chad Huffman to make the score 10-0 and add an exclamation point to an already impressive win.
Brooks Dunn entered in the sixth and used three solid innings of one-hit relief to close the game and earn his first professional save.
With the win, the Ems move to three games over .500 and up their record against the Hawks this year to 7-2.
Miller talks about his one-hitter and King talked about reaching base five times: Listen to Audio
On Monday the Ems close both the homestand and the season series with Boise. Eugene will send righty Matt Buschmann (2-2, 2.90 ERA) to the hill against Boise’s Kitt Kopach (0-0, 5.25). Buschmann appeared in the Ems’ third game of the year against Boise. In that game he allowed three hits, struck out one and earned the win in two solid innings out of the bullpen. Game time Monday is 7:05 p.m.