When asked about his approach at the plate, Eugene Emeralds second baseman Ray Stokes said, “always, always up the middle first.” His methodology paid off as Stokes’ two-run bases loaded single in the bottom of the fourth broke the game open. Stokes had a big night at the plate, reaching base four times and going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Three consecutive infield hits set the table for Stokes and he delivered the big hit. Danny Payne reached following Stokes, and then Kellen Kulbacki picked up an RBI with a bases loaded walk. The Ems scored their fourth and final run of the inning on yet another infield hit, this one off the bat of Justin Pickett to put Eugene up 7-2.
The Ems used their superior speed on the base paths to their advantage. Twice the Emeralds executed the double steal and three times the Ems swiped third without a throw.
“We stole those bases off of their catcher,” Stokes said. “We like playing the type of aggressive baseball being employed by our manager (Greg Riddoch). It is very important for us to utilize our tremendous team speed.”
Thursday night the Emeralds certainly did so, stealing seven bases off the Boise battery with Payne and Stokes both swiping three bags.
The power part of the equation for the Ems came in the form of two solo home runs. Justin Pickett hit his league leading fifth round tripper in the sixth inning and Luis Durango led off the third with a solo shot. Durango’s home run started a wild inning in which the Ems executed a double steal and Steven Clevenger, the Boise catcher, threw the ball into centerfield allowing Stokes to score.
Boise’s runs came off of Emeralds starter Mat Latos. Latos threw three innings giving up the two runs on four hits. Colt Hynes pitched two strong innings in relief to pick up his second win. Hynes combined with Chris Perez and Brandon Gomes to throw scoreless ball over six innings.
Durango had a good night for the Ems. He went 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .414. The big nights from Stokes and Durango paved the way to another victory for the Ems.
Stokes was extremely humble about his stellar game. “We have a lot of good players on this team,” he said. “I just try to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Danny Payne extended his streak of reaching base in consecutive games with two walks. The streak now stands at 86 games in a row, the last 77 in college and the first 9 of his professional career.
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