Emeralds get shut out over eight innings by Hops bullpen in 4-2 loss
One night after scoring four runs in the ninth inning to win 4-3, the Eugene Emeralds were once again within striking distance, trailing 4-2 in the ninth and looking to come from behind again.
The Ems weren’t as fortunate Monday, dropping the series finale against the Hillsboro Hops 4-2.
After a two-run first inning, the Ems’ offense was silenced by the Hops’ bullpen. Winning pitcher Bryan Valdez, West Tunnell, Ethan Larrison and Kyler Stout gave Hillsboro eight scoreless innings of work.
“[Their bullpen] did a nice job,” Ems manager Steven Lerud said. “The quality at-bats weren’t there. We have to do a better job of grinding out at-bats, so something we have to work on.”
The lone inning which saw runs for the Ems came in the first and started in a strange way. Ems leadoff hitter Fernando Kelli took a pitch in on the hand, which made a pop sound. While Kelli shook his hand in pain, home plate umpire Nick McFarland signaled foul ball.
“The ball hit him in the hand and it sounded like it hit the bat,” Lerud said. “We had to kind of show the umpire where it hit him. You know it doesn’t happen all the time, but we got a call overturned and it ended working out, we scored a couple runs.”
Lerud got his way when McFarland wavered, sending Kelli to first base, which angered Hops manager Shawn Roof. One day after being tossed for arguing a fair ball, Roof came out to argue the newly minted hit-by-pitch, but wasn’t as convincing as Lerud. Luckily for Roof, he was able to stay in the game.
A sac-bunt (Luis Vazquez), a walk (Nico Hoerner) and a fielder’s choice (Jonathan Sierra) put the Ems up 1-0. Nelson Velazquez was able to knock Hoerner home from second with an rbi single, which brought the lead to two.
Ems starting pitcher Ryan Williams pitched well, minus the fifth inning. Through the first four, the righty allowed just two hits and struck out three without allowing a run. In the fifth, things fell apart. Hops first baseman Francis Martinez launched an opposite field home run and then after a hit-by-pitch and a couple bad-luck singles, which included a perfect bunt by Jose Caballero, the Hops were up 3-2.
Hillsboro tacked on one more in the seventh, which brought the score to its eventual 4-2 finish.
One bright spot for the Ems was catcher Jonathan Soto, who threw out two attempted base stealers. Soto now has eight victims this season.
“We have been working on that a lot,” Lerud said. “I think a lot of it has to do with our pitchers [who] are doing better at holding the ball and varying their holds with runners on base and giving him a chance.”
The Ems will take a much-needed day off Tuesday before traveling to Spokane for a five-game series. On Monday, July 16, at 7:05 p.m. they will return to PK Park to host the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
“Anytime you get a [day off] in the middle of a stretch like this, it’s always nice,” Lerud said. “We hope to reset a bit and get back to it Wednesday.”
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack
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