Eugene pulls out a thrilling victory

Eric Sogard

Eugene, OR – Though a rare lightning storm flashed across the southern skyline in Eugene, it was the Emeralds who caught lightning in a bottle against the Everett Aquasox, rallying back in the bottom of the ninth to win 4-3.

With a backdrop of stormy weather, the Emeralds got off to a slow start, falling behind by three runs before finally getting on board in the sixth inning. As the lightning gave way to light showers, the Ems found their hitting stroke and added three more runs through the next three innings, including two in a wild ninth inning to end the game.

Up 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Everett sent Ryan Moorer to the mound to close out the game. Eugene manager Greg Riddoch countered by pinch-hitting Ray Stokes for Brian Lauderdale to lead off the inning. Moorer walked Stokes and Luis Durango to begin the inning, putting Eugene's two fastest players on base with no outs. Eric Sogard, who was briefly called up to Triple-A Portland last week, dropped a short bunt down the third base line, loading the bases. Mitch Canham followed Sogard by chopping an RBI-single to shortstop that scored Stokes and tied the game at 3-3. Moorer finished the game by walking Luis Martinez to score Durango.

"We took advantage of [Moorer's] control problems and were able to get on a couple guys walking," Sogard said. "A nice little bunt and a nice infield base hit put the pressure on him, and I guess he folded."

Moorer (1-1) finished the game without recording an out, three walks, two hits, two earned runs, a blown save and the loss.

Despite the loss, the Aquasox drew first blood in the second inning when Joseph Dunigan singled a groundball up the middle off starting pitcher Chris Perez. Ogui Diaz then hit his second homerun of the year, a two-run shot off Perez into left field.

Everett struck again in the top of the sixth when Greg Halman doubled off Eugene reliever Corey Luebke. After Edilio Colina struck out, Halman scored on a groundball by Matt Mangini that passed through the glove of first baseman Robbie Blauer.

Though Everett's Juan Ramirez was nearly unhittable through the first five innings, the Ems were able to finally score a break in the sixth when Sogard scored from third off of a wild pitch by Ramirez.

After Ramirez left after six innings, Eugene looked more comfortable at the plate. The Emeralds loaded the bases in the seventh innings against reliever Aaron Brown, who then walked Canham to force home Lauderdale for Eugene's second run. Bryan Harris replaced Brown and stopped the run by getting Martinez to ground out to end the inning.

After a scoreless eighth, the Emeralds (15-7) fought back to bring their home record to 10-1. The win leaves Eugene three games behind the first place Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (18-4) in the West Division of the Northwest League, who won their ninth game in the past 10 Wednesday evening. The loss, Everett's seventh in their last eight games, dropped the Aquasox (10-12) further into last place in the West.

The win was Canham's first at Civic Stadium after spending four seasons up north at Corvallis with the Oregon State Beavers. The reception for Canham was friendly, despite the fact that Eugene is home to the Oregon Ducks, Canham's inter-state rival for the last four years. Canham did not disappoint the 2,721 in attendance, going 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs.

"I always said I was playing for all of Oregon in the Northwest," Canham said. "I expected everyone to be nice to me while I was down here. I didn't expect everyone to boo and hiss."

Canham may be a new addition to the team, but Sogard is familiar with the new catcher after playing against him for four years at Arizona State. Now that the two are teammates, Sogard says that any rivalry the two may have had as Pac-10 competitors is over.

"We got to throw that away," Sogard said. "We're good friends anyways. He's a great guy to have out here and we're excited to have him around."

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