The Emeralds’ (12-5) fourth victory in a row during its five game homestand kept the club within distance of the white hot Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, which holds a two game lead over the Ems in the ultra competitive West Division of the Northwest League. Yakima’s (5-12) fourth straight loss dropped the team into a tie for second place in the East Division, four games behind the Spokane Indians.
The Emeralds came out of the gates with arms blazing, as Jeremy McBryde, Robert Woodard, and Rey Garramone combined to allow just two hits through seven scoreless innings before the Bears scored their only run in the eighth.
“We’ve got pretty good pitching and lately, some timely hitting,” said manager Greg Riddoch.
Eugene jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning due to some sloppy fielding by Yakima. Luis Durango led off the game with a line drive single to center field. Ray Stokes then sent a bunt towards Yakima third baseman Miguel Rodriguez, who overthrew the throw to first, allowing Durango and Stokes to advance into scoring position. The two scored on a follow up line drive to right field by Eric Sogard, which was misplayed by Aaron Hanke.
The following inning, Durango and Stokes found themselves in familiar territory after getting on base with back-to-back bunts for singles. After Sogard popped out, Durango swiped third, then scored when Josh Collmenter tried to pickoff Stokes at first but overthrew the bag.
Collmenter (0-1) left the game after the second inning and was credited with the loss.
The errors were two of four in the game for the Bears. The Emeralds had several miscues as well, though none led to any scoring opportunities to Yakima. Eric Sogard let a sharp grounder hit by Shane Byrne pass through his legs in the fourth, an unusual error by the normally sturdy fielder. The very next play, Durango slipped while running to catch a line drive hit by Konrad Schmidt, though the play was not credited as an error. Later in the fifth, Justin Baum dropped a routine pop fly in foul territory near third base.
Though disheartening, Riddoch knows sometimes, such plays are part of the game.
“Those are given like the sun coming up,” Riddoch said. “I try to find every positive thing that they do to accentuate the game because the negatives are given.
“I figure the negative stuff in the game, the failure, is seven out of 10 times if you’re hitting .300 and eight of 10 if you’re getting .200.”
Despite their misplays on the field, Baum, Sogard and Durango made amends by having strong performances at the plate. Baum hit his second home run of the season in the fourth, a deep solo shot that ricocheted off the flag pole behind the left field wall.
Sogard continued to shine in his second game with the Emeralds, scoring two runs and driving in a third off of three hits. Durango also scored a pair of runs while displaying some of his lightning speed around the bases.
Yakima was finally able to put a dent in the Ems’ pitching staff in the eighth as Evan Frey knocked a 3-1 pitch by Garramone to deep right field. Mark Hallberg followed up by driving in Frey with a line drive double back to right. After walking Jo-Jo Batten, Garramone ended the inning by retiring the next two batters. In three innings of relief, Garramone (2-1) gave up one run off of three hits to earn the win.
Colt Hynes closed out the ninth for the Emeralds by striking out the side. In seven appearances for Eugene in relief work, Hynes has yet to allow an earned run.
Talk about the Eugene Emeralds on our subscriber-only message boards