Pickett homers way to Eugene victory

Justin Pickett

Eugene, OR-- Eugene catcher Justin Pickett started the Emeralds home opener continuing to hit the way he left off in Spokane. Following a ninth inning blast the night before against the Spokane Indians, Pickett hit two more balls out of the park against the Boise Hawks, helping the Ems claim a 5-4 victory.

The win brought the Emeralds (4-2) to within a game of the Northwest League leading Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (5-1) who lost to Spokane, snapping their five game season opening win streak. The Hawks (0-6) lost their sixth consecutive game to start the season, the previous five coming from the other side of Salem-Keizer's victories.

For the second game in a row, Eugene got off to a strong start by getting the first three batters of the game safely on base. Luis Durango surprised the Hawks by opening the game with a bunt down the third base line; he narrowly beat out the throw to first base. Durango used his impressive speed again to swipe second before Ray Stokes walked. Danny Payne also reached on a walk, setting up Shane Buschini with the bases loaded. Starting Boise pitcher Al Albuquerque managed to get Buschini out on strikes, bringing Brian Joynt to the plate. Joynt smacked a line drive single just over the second baseman's left shoulder, scoring Durango and Stokes.

Albuquerque settled somewhat, striking out six in four innings while giving up just one more run off of an error in the third inning by left fielder Ty Wright. Wright misplayed a routine fly by Buschini, a two base error. Robbie Blauer brought in Buschini lifting the Emeralds to a 3-0 lead with a single to center field.

The Hawks struck back in the top of the fifth off of Eugene's Chris Perez. Perez had trouble finding his control, hitting Mario Mercedez to start the inning. Perez gave up a single to Derek Schermerhorn, and walked the next two batters, bringing Mercedez in to score. The Hawks put one more run on the board on a bases loaded, two out single to third by Marquez Smith. Joynt awkwardly fielded the ball and could not tag his base in time to force the inning ending out. His throw to first was late and Schermerhorn brought the Hawks within one. Perez ended the rally by getting Wright to ground out to shortstop.

In the top of the sixth, Pickett hit his first home run of the night, a solo shot off of Harol Tolentino to lift the Ems to a 4-2 lead. Boise tied the game up the next inning off of a two-run home run to left by Wright off Adam McDaniel.

Eugene quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Justin Pickett came up to bat again. Pickett placed his game winning shot almost exactly in the same place as his first, this time off of reliever Chris Siegfried.

Brandon Gomes (1-0) relieved McDaniel for the remaining two and a third innings, shutting out the Hawks and earning his first win of the season.

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