Breit shines in Emeralds victory

Breit shines in Emeralds victory

EUGENE – Mathematically, the Eugene Emeralds are eliminated from the postseason. But that didn't stop Aaron Breit and company from putting on an impressive show Saturday against the Everett AquaSox (Seattle Mariners).

Breit worked five solid innings for Eugene, giving up two runs on four hits. The biggest stat of the day for Breit was his eight strikeouts, which guided the Emeralds to the 8-4 victory.

"I felt great. (Matt) Stocco called a great game. The defense was good. I can't complain," Breit said.

In his last 20 innings pitched, Breit has allowed just six runs and 17 hits.

"I thought he had good stuff. His last three outings, he's really pitched well. He's getting ahead of hitters and he's mixing his pitches up," pitching coach Wally Whitehurst said. "His curveball has been outstanding. His changeup is getting better. He's done a hell of a job here lately."

Breit, who was tossing at speeds between 90 and 92 miles-per-hour Saturday, struck out the side in the second after surrendering a leadoff single and a double. Then, after allowing one run in the third, Breit again escaped a jam when he walked the leadoff batter, Dean Zorn in the fifth with the Emeralds clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Zorn stole second and reached third on an overthrow by Stocco. But Breit roared back and struck out Ogui Diaz, Kevin Reynolds and Marcos Villezcas, causing the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder to pump his fists in excitement as he headed to the dugout.

"It was good to see," Whitehurst said of Breit's work in the fifth. "He got himself into trouble with the walk, and he came back with some quality pitches. He made pitches when he had to. As a pitching coach, to see a young guy like that make pitches when he has to, it's good to see. I was happy for him, and he's really been doing well."

The Emeralds' offense broke the game open in the fifth after Breit turned away Everett's chance to tie. Craig Cooper led off with a single, and Chad Huffman walked before Luke Cannon grounded to Zorn at second. Zorn flipped to the shortstop to get Huffman but the relay to first sailed wide, allowing Cooper to score and Cannon to reach second. Jesus Lopez followed with a single and Stocco brought two home with a double into the left-center field gap, putting the Emeralds ahead 6-2.

After the AquaSox cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth, Eugene added two insurance runs in the eighth off of Everett reliever Aaron Solomon thanks to three walks and two hit batsmen. Everett starter Natividad Dilone picked up his sixth loss of season. He went three innings, giving up three hits and three runs.

Three Eugene relievers combined to allow one hit and no runs after reliever Jon Kirby was roughed up in his one-third of an inning. Kirby gave up three hits and two runs. Nick Tucci came on and worked 1.2 innings without a hit or run. Ernesto Frieri pitched an inning and Rolando Valdez closed the game in the ninth, giving up one hit.

Still, this night belonged to Breit, a 12th-round selection in 2005 out of Garden City (Kansas) Community College. The win evens his record to 2-2 on the season and lowers his ERA to 3.23.

"He's great," Stocco said of Breit. "Tonight he had all his stuff working. The last couple starts he's had, he's been right on."

The Emeralds plated their first two runs of the contest in the first, an inning that started with consecutive two-out walks by Antonelli and Cooper. Huffman followed with a lined RBI single into right field and Michael Campbell laced a grounder down the first-base line for an RBI double.

Everett responded in the second when Manelik Pimentel led off with a single and was driven in by Bryan Sabatella's double off the left-center field fence, cutting the Emeralds' lead to 2-1.

The AquaSox tied the game in the third when Reynolds lined a single up the middle and stole second. He scored on Villezcas' single.

The Emeralds took the lead for good in the third when they loaded the bases with no outs and Huffman drove in his second run of the day with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The win ups Eugene's record to 36-30. Eugene and Everett meet for the final game of the three-game series Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Drew Miller (1-1, 4.03 ERA) will likely get the start for Eugene. Following Sunday's game, Eugene will travel to Everett for a three-game series.

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