The Eugene Emeralds (43-33) and Manager of the Year, Doug Dascenzo, took to the field for the final time of the season in search of one more win against the NWL West champions, but came up short.
“You always like to win the last game, but you look back on the season,” said Dascenzo (Listen to Audio), obviously pleased with his team’s performance throughout the season. Dascenzo couldn’t hold back his smile when talking about his team. “I thought they had a great year and these last two weeks they played their hearts out and even though knowing they’d been eliminated from the race were very proud of what they’ve done this year.
Tonight, Drew Miller and Ben Snyder faced off on the hill for the Ems and Volcanoes, respectively, in a rematch of last Friday’s game in Salem in which the Emeralds won 6-4. Both pitchers got a no decision in the September 1st game as they each gave up three runs in their five innings of work.
The Emeralds, one of only two teams to not have a losing record against Salem-Keizer this season, struck first. With one on and none out, Michael Campbell turned on a pitch and sent a no-doubter deep to right and out. The blast silenced the ---4,119 fans in attendance for a moment as they watched the ball sail out of the ballpark before bringing them to their feet and giving Miller and the Ems the early 2-0 lead.
The Volcanoes brought the score within a run in the fourth. After recording the first two outs, Miller plunked Thomas Neal in the side and gave up back-to-back hits that brought Neal around to score.
An inning later, second baseman Brad Boyer gave the Volcanoes a 3-2 lead when he replicated Campbell’s earlier feat, turning on a 1-and-0 fastball from relief pitcher Nick Tucci and depositing it over the right field fence for a two-run homerun.
Campbell’s second homer of the game came in seventh inning. Still down by a run, Campbell worked the count against relief pitcher Jesse English in his favor. He jumped all over English’s 2-and-0 offering and smacked the pitch out of the yard in right.
R.J. Rodriguez took the mound in the ninth inning of the tie ballgame looking to keep it that way. However, he gave up three straight hits and then a wild pitch that brought home the eventual winning run for the Volcanoes. Salem-Keizer will look to ride the momentum of the 4-3 win into the NWL playoffs against the Boise Hawks tomorrow.
Reflecting on his team and the season, Dascenzo said: “What stood out was the way they went about their business and the way they always gave themselves a chance in just about every ballgame. Out of 76 games, only about six of them they really didn’t have a chance or an opportunity all the way to the end. So, they never quit, never gave up. And that’s one attribute that you need to have to be a major league player.”
Dascenzo shared the co-Manager of the Year award with Salem-Keizer manager Steve Decker. “It’s a testament to the kids and to the staff here,” he said, gesturing throughout the room to the rest of his coaching staff. “To only put one name to it is unfortunate, but it really is a testament to what we all do here and it makes us all feel really good.”
The 2006 Emeralds finished the season in second in the NWL West division, overshadowed by a impressive and dominant season by the Volcanoes. Several players of note spent a brief period with the team here in Eugene before moving on (David Freese, Nate Culp, Wade LeBlanc), and some spent all or nearly all of their first seasons in professional baseball playing in the friendly confines of Civic Stadium, as they all helped to lead the way to one of the best Ems seasons in recent memory.