Six-run fourth pushes Ems past Yakima

Justin Pickett tips his hat after a homer

Eugene, OR- Justin Pickett's three-run homer in the sixth propelled the Emeralds to their third straight win. The homerun capped a six-run fourth inning as Eugene defeated Yakima 11-4. The Eugene offense was relentless in the middle innings and they received pretty solid pitching as well. The win improved the Ems to 10-5 as they chase first place Salem-Keizer.

The breakout inning began with Justin Baum taking the first pitch of the sixth over the wall in right center for a homerun. Andy Parrino followed suit with a single and Brian Lauderdale doubled him to third with no one out. Successive outs and a walk to Kellen Kulbacki set the table for Luis Martinez. He hit into what should have been an inning ending force out, but Yakima shortstop Mark Hallberg short armed the throw and the ball wound up in shallow right field. Parrino and Lauderdale scored to tie the game at three. The Ems went ahead for good when Justin Pickett worked the count and hit a 2-2 fastball over the right field fence for a three-run homerun.

"I hoped it was out more than I thought it was out," Pickett said of his high fly ball to right. "I didn't think he would throw me a 2-2 fastball and he hung the curve and I just put some good wood on it."

The Ems scored twice more in the fifth thanks to base hits by Lauderdale and Luis Durango. Payne got them to second and third, respectively, by hitting the ball to the right side. Kulbacki scored Lauderdale with a sacrifice fly and Durango advanced to third. Yakima hurler Alvaro Ortega balked Durango home before firing the next pitch to make the score Eugene 8-4.

Eugene added three more runs in the sixth. Brian Joynt doubled to start the inning and then scored on Baum's third hit of the night. Parrino continued the hit parade with a homerun off of the scoreboard in right center field. The Yakima manager argued profusely, but it appeared to hit just above the spot where Kulbacki's hit last night.

Mat Latos was brilliant early, striking out six of the first eight batters he faced. He allowed one hit through three scoreless innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth. The second time through the lineup the Bears seemed to make a concerted effort to hit the ball the other way off the hard throwing Latos. A hit batsmen and two opposite field base hits loaded the bases for Ramon Ramirez. He delivered a bases clearing double to center over the head of a shallow playing Durango in center, but the Bears would only score one more run.

Latos threw four innings, giving up three earned runs, four hits, and striking out six. Ian Harrington took the loss for the Bears, yielding six runs on four and seven walks in 3.2 innings. Yakima pitchers walked 11 batters.

Matt Teague picked up the win and combined with Chris Perez and Matt Huff to throw five innings of one run ball in relief of Latos.

Pickett finished the night 1-for-4 and his three-run bomb in the fourth gave him a league leading six homeruns on the year.

Baum finished the night 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including his first homerun as a professional. Parrino and Lauderdale also had multi-hit games for the Ems.

"Get a good ball to hit," Baum said of his approach. "That is what this organization preaches. It has been an adjustment these first few weeks, but I am coming along and that homerun felt great because I squared up and stayed through one for the first time in a while."

Kulbacki's sacrifice fly in the fifth continued his RBI streak. He now has at least one RBI in four straight and six of the last eight games.

Notes:

Danny Payne's streak of consecutive games reaching base was extended to 91 in dramatic fashion. His spot in the lineup came up with two outs in the ninth and he had not reached base in five previous at-bats. The patient hitter drew a walk and the streak goes on.

Before tonight's game the Emeralds held a ceremony to honor manager Greg Riddoch as their new all-time wins leader. He did not speak much about the record, rather he spoke about life in more general terms.

"From a young age, I have always known I wanted be involved in baseball and in providing a positive influence on young people," said Riddoch. "For a kid turning sixty-two soon it is nice to come full circle in your career and have the chance to be in Eugene again."

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