Emeralds struggles start at home

Rey Garramone

Eugene, OR – Home just isn't what it used to be. Since beginning the season with a franchise best mark of 10-1 at home, the Eugene Emeralds have struggled at Civic Stadium, going 10-9. The home slump is part of the problem for the Ems, who have gone just 6-13 since the end of July.

With the Everett Aquasox in town for a three game series, the Emeralds were hoping to build on last night's 6-2 victory and scrape together their first back-to-back wins since August 6th. The Ems couldn't muster enough offense to get the job done, however, falling to the Aquasox 4-1.

"The plus is that we've sent 11 people up," said manager Greg Riddoch. "We start out with the best record in the history of the Emeralds and get rid of 11 people. They were all doing a good job, now they're doing a good job somewhere else. It's an opportunity to give someone else a chance."

The Emeralds started the game strong, getting on board in the bottom of the second. Danny Payne led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Kellen Kulbacki moved Payne over to third on a grounder to shortstop. Later, with Lance Zawadzki batting, Rob Harmon threw a high pitch over catcher Craig Hurba's glove, allowing Payne to sprint home and lift the Ems to an early 1-0 lead.

The teams traded scoreless innings until Everett came back to tie it in the fourth. Hurba started the inning by zipping a single down the third base line and Rey Garramone hit Kris Sanchez. With runners on first and second, Greg Halman launched an RBI-triple off the wall in right centerfield to score Hurba. As Sanchez rounded third, Zawadzki whipped the relay throw from Payne to catcher Mitch Canham in time to catch Sanchez at the plate, keeping the score tied at 1-1.

The Aquasox doubled up during the next inning as Jeff Dunbar led off the inning with a double to the right field wall. Roberto Mena then moved Dunbar to third on a grounder to second base. With Mena only needing a deep fly to score, Jim Davenport responded by blasting a shot high into foul territory along the right field line. Kulbacki made a spectacular diving catch to record the out, but his throw was not in time and the Sox took a 2-1 advantage.

Garramone left after the inning, giving up two earned runs in five innings of work while striking out three. John Hussey relieved for the Emeralds and immediately ran into trouble. Hussey gave up a deep, solo-homerun to Halman, his team-leading 11th shot of the season. Hussey walked the next to batters and threw a wild pitch to the backstop, advancing the runners to second and third. He recovered, though, recording the next two outs to leave the inning with little damage done.

Matt Huff had nearly as much trouble replacing Hussey in the seventh. Huff walked Edilio Colina and Blake Ochoa before giving up a line drive to left field by Halman to load the bases. Huff was able to strikeout Joe Dunigan to end the inning without allowing the Aquasox to improve upon their 3-1 lead.

Huff couldn't escape damage in the eighth, though, walking Kalian Sims to start the inning. Sims later stole second and scored on an RBI-single hit to centerfield by James Davenport.

Despite the loss, Riddoch is still able to keep a positive outlook on the season.

"We've got so many players injured within the organization, we're filling everybody else's needs," Riddoch said. "It leaves our staff somewhat depleted. Yet, that leads to new opportunities for players coming into the organization."

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