Emeralds bats keep up the pace in thrashing

Keith Conlon

Eugene, OR – Through his first 12 games of the season, Keith Conlon was having a dismal start to his professional baseball career. The 24-year-old outfielder from Texas Christian University was hitting just .176 with no homeruns and five RBIs for the Eugene Emeralds.

Since the final game in a home series against the Everett Aquasox on July 12, Keith Conlon has seen a complete turnaround. In the eight games since, Conlon has tripled his hits, going 16-for-31 with two homeruns and ten RBIs. He now is a regular in the heart of the order and has raised his average to a robust .338.

"I'm feeling good," Conlon said. "I have a lot of confidence and finally figured out my timing."

Conlon's bat was again at work in Sunday afternoon's contest against the visiting Tri-City Dust Devils. He scored four runs off four hits, falling a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in helping the Ems launch past the Devils in a 12-4 victory in front of 3,213 fans at Civic Stadium.

The action started early for Eugene, as they scored the first six runners in the bottom of the first inning. Luis Durango and Eric Sogard began the inning with a single and a double to bring Justin Baum up to bat. Baum then hit a deep fly ball to left center field off Drew Coffey (1-3) to put the Ems up 3-0. Conlon followed up with another homerun, his second blast of the season. Three batters later with runners on second and third, Andrew Parrino capped the scoring run with a two-RBI grounder to centerfield.

The Ems scored two more runs in the second when Danny Payne and Kellen Kulbacki hit back-to-back RBI singles off Coffey. Coffey left the game after giving up eight runs on eight hits in 1.1 innings of work.

After starting pitcher Jeremy McBryde gave up a three-run homerun to Lars Davis in the fourth, the Ems tacked the runs back on. Robbie Blauer doubled in Justin Pickett during the fifth while Kulbacki hit a two-run homerun to centerfield in the sixth to lift Eugene to an 11-3 lead.

The teams exchanged runs in the eighth inning and Colt Hynes pitched a scoreless ninth to end the day for the Emeralds.

Kulbacki finished the game going 4-for-5 with three RBIs while Rey Garramone (5-1) gave up one run on three hits to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season.

The win for the Emeralds has marked a notable period of increased run production that parallels with Conlon's streak. Eugene has scored seven or more runs in six of the past nine games after only having five such games in the first 24 contests of the season. During the streak, the Ems have averaged 7.78 runs per game, more than 2.5 runs over their seasonal average.

"I think it's guys getting used to the wooden bats," Conlon said. "Everyone's coming from college after using a metal bat and it's been a big adjustment and we're all just getting in routine of relaxing and having fun."

Also notable in the win, Durango went 1-for-5, bringing his hitting streak to 12 games.

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