Eugene battles hard in victory

Lance Zawadzki

Eugene, OR – The Eugene Emeralds entered the final homestand of the season 22 games behind the visiting Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The team was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, but essentially has been out of the running for most of August.

To make matters worse, the Ems are just 2-14 in their last 16 contests, which includes an 11-game losing streak. Yet, with just three games remaining on the schedule against the 2007 Northwest League Division Champions, the Emeralds are in good spirits and continue to play hard. The Ems came from behind in a high scoring matchup to beat the Volcanoes 12-7 in front of 3,404 fans on Labor Day at Civic Stadium.

"We got nothing else to lose," said manager Greg Riddoch. "[Salem's] trying to get ready for the playoffs. We swung the bat and got good pitching when it counted."

The Emeralds came out strung behind a solid start by Mat Latos. He has been one of the few bright spots for the Emeralds in the month of August, which have gone 7-23 in the stretch. In his last five outings, Latos has sported a 1.13 ERA while recording 35 strike outs in 24 innings. Latos started strong, pitching three scoreless innings before giving up an RBI-single to Tyler La Torre in the fourth.

The Emeralds bounced back, though, scoring four runs in the bottom of the inning. Yefri Carvajal led the charge with a one-out single up the left side that scored Andrew Cumberland and Lance Zawadzki. With bases loaded, Brad Chalk hit what appeared to be an inning ending double to play to second baseman Brock Bonds. Bonds bobbled the hit, though, and overthrew to first, allowing Carvajal and Robbie Blauer to score.

The lead would not last though, as Latos walked a pair of batters in the fifth, then gave up back-to-back singles, erasing the 4-1 lead the team built in the previous inning.

"I got a little tired. I got a little around my slider," said Latos. "These things happen; it's baseball."

Robert Woodard came in to relieve Latos, who left with two earned runs and four strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

The Volcanoes took the lead in the sixth, as Bruce Edwards hit a triple to center field off Woodard that scored Sean VanElderan and Jose Flores.

The Ems again rallied back, combining to score five runs against Rickey Bauer (4-3) and Joe Patterson. Andrew Parrino, Edgar Garzon and Zawadzki all drove in runs as the team cycled through the lineup to take a 9-6 lead.

Justin Pickett added an RBI single in the seventh while Blauer and Zawadzki each added RBI singles in the eighth to give the Emeralds a 12-7 lead.

Colt Hynes (3-2) came in to work the last two innings, giving up one hit and striking out four to earn the win.

Zawadzki finished the day with four hits and three RBIs, including the first triple of his professional career. Carvajal and Cumberland each poured on three hits of their own as every starting player on the Ems except Bradley Chalk scored a hit.

"To finish the year with enthusiasm is great. A lot of guys would just hang it up, lay down, hurry it up and go through the motions," Riddoch said. "We just keep trying. Regardless of what we have, we just keep trying. New guys come in and get their chance to show their stuff."

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