Indicative by the score, the Ems struggled both at the plate and on the mound for the entirety of the game. They tallied just five total hits and didn’t score after Nate Freiman hit a two-out RBI double off the left field wall that scored Jason Codiroli in the bottom of the first inning.
“It’s just one of those days, nothing went you’re way,” said Ems’ second baseman Vince Belnome, who came into Monday night’s game leading the league in home runs, RBI and was in the top-5 in almost every other offensive category in the Northwest League. “[We just] have to come back, erase that game, come back and play tomorrow.”
Right hander Matt Jackson (3-3) got the start on the mound for the Ems, but was shaken up early, as the Dust Devils scored two runs in the first inning, and three runs in the third inning, which would be Jackson’s last. In just three innings of work, Jackson gave up five hits, five runs, walked one batter and struck out two.
“I just wasn’t locating everything,” Jackson said. “I left some stuff up, got hit around, [and] wasn’t making adjustments.”
Prior to his outing, Jackson had the fifth best ERA in the Northwest League, but the loss is Jackson’s third in a row.
“[I need to] get ahead, throw both sides of the plate and keep the ball down,” said Jackson, mulling over adjustments he needs to make after the game.
The Ems bullpen was less than effective, as Ryan Hinson, Mario Tabachnik, Al Angelucci and Andrew Bovich all saw action after Jackson’s departure. In six innings, they combined to allow 10 hits, nine runs, six walks (Angelucci walked four in just 0.2 innings) and struck out six.
In contrast, the Dust Devils’ pitching was more than impressive. Starter Josh Hungerman pitched four innings, giving up just one run on two hits, while striking out six batters and walking five. Craig Bennigson (4-3) got the win for the Dust Devils as he worked two innings in relief of Hungerman, giving up one hit, no runs, while striking out three batters and not allowing a walk. The Dust Devils’ bullpen didn’t allow a single run, didn’t give up a single base on balls, and allowed just three hits in five innings of work.
The Dust Devils’ solid effort on the mound was backed by a steady offensive output, as they scored one run in the fifth inning, three runs in the sixth inning, three runs in the eighth inning and two more runs in the ninth inning.
Though the pitching has been recently become a huge question, the Ems, as a team, have struggled tremendously as of late. In their last 11 games, they are 3-8. In nine of the last 11 games, they have given up more than five runs and in five of their last 11 they have given up 10 runs or more. In a five-game series at Spokane last week, the Ems lost the last three games and won just one game in the entire series. The Ems are currently in last place in the Northwest League West Division, sitting 12.0 games behind first place Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (30-13).
“We’re just not playing good baseball right now, overall,” Belnome said. “We just have to come out tomorrow and try to win and just do the little things right, because we’re not doing stuff right, right now as a team.”
Despite the current losing streak and the Ems’ record more than halfway through the season, manager George Riddoch said that he is still impressed with the way his team has battled lately.
“We try to score runs every night; we come from behind, we come from behind, come from behind, but we just can’t overcome what are pitching’s done right now,” Riddoch said. “They battle like hell.”
“What can you do? Just play again tomorrow,” Riddoch said. “Hopefully they can get it together.”
Game two of the five-game home series between the Ems and the Dust Devils is slated to begin at 7:05 p.m., Tuesday.