The Eugene Emeralds (2-6) return to Civic Stadium this week after five games away against the Yakima Bears (5-3). The series, which was the Ems’ first away series of the season, did not go well for the club, as they dropped four of five games to the Bears.
In game one, the Ems jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, but were unable to recover after the Bears scored four of their six runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Alessio Angelucci (0-1) was given the loss after coming on in relief in the fourth. He pitched 1.2 innings, giving up four runs and six hits in the fifth, including a two-run home run.
The Bears scored again in the sixth inning, making the score 6-4. The Ems scored once more in the seventh, but were unable to get a hit in both the eighth and ninth innings.
During the second game of the series the Ems held a 3-0 lead until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Bears scored three runs to tie the game 3-3. The Bears scored three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 6-3 lead for good. The Ems struggled at the plate for the second straight game, finishing with just four hits total. The bullpen also had problems, giving up all of the Bears’ six runs in five innings of work.
After close games on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ems were blown out in game three of the series, 12-6. Despite scoring four runs in the second inning and finishing the game with a total of 15 hits, the Ems were unable to match the Bears’ offensive consistency; Yakima scored two runs in the second inning, three runs in the third, three runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth.
The Ems got solid offensive outings from first baseman Nate Freiman, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles, second baseman Joey Railey, who went 4-for-6 with one run batted in, and shortstop Chris Tremblay, who finished the evening 3-for-5.
Chris Wilkes (0-2) got his second straight loss of the season in his second start, after going four innings, giving up seven hits, four runs and two walks in Friday’s 3-6 loss to the Bears. The majority of the damage was done in the bottom of the second when the Bears scored four runs on four hits. The Ems had seven hits, but scored just three runs.
“They were swinging first-pitch fastball and we didn’t correct that,” Wilkes said. “I kept throwing first pitch and they just kept hitting away. You can’t look at the negatives. You got to take the positive through the innings and just work on eliminating that bad inning.
“I’m happy with it,” Wilkes continued. “Just one bad inning – that’s all it is.”
The Ems’ designated hitter Bo Davis had an impressive game at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles. Freiman went 1-for-4 at the plate, but knocked in two of the Ems’ runs.
For the Ems, Saturday’s game five was finally a turnaround, as they handily beat the Bears, 9-1. The Ems scored two runs in the first inning, four runs in the fifth, one run in the sixth and two more runs in the top of the ninth. They finished the game with a total of 12 hits and got a stellar performance from designated hitter Edinson Rincon, who ended the game a double away from hitting for the cycle. Rincon went 3-for-4 at the plate with a single, a triple and got things started with a lead off home run in the fifth inning. Ems third baseman Vincent Belnome also had a big impact with his bat. He went 1-for-4 with three RBI and broke the game open with a huge two-RBI double to center field in the fifth inning.
The Ems also got solid performances on the mound. Jose De Paula got his second start of the season for the Ems and went 4.2 innings, giving up just one run and striking out four batters. Matthew Jackson, who relieved De Paula in the bottom of the fifth inning, got the win. Jackson pitched 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and no runs.
The Ems return to Civic Stadium this week for a six-game homestand against the Everett AquaSox (5-3) with the second-worst record in the Northwest League behind the Boise Hawks (1-7) and the worst record in the Northwest League West Division. The AquaSox are in second place in the Northwest League West Division.
The Ems won just one game in their three-game home opening series with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Despite the losses, the series showcased the potential the Ems possess. They hit the ball extremely well, tallying 11 hits in each of the first two games of the series – both losses – but they left runners on base and were unable to get hits with runners in scoring position.
“We’re hitting the ball nice, we just don’t get the timely hit,” manager Greg Riddoch said after last Sunday’s 4-8 loss. “It’s rookie league baseball and that’s kind of what you see every single day.”
Riddoch, who is in his ninth season as the Ems manager, knows early losses are nothing to get discouraged about. Last season, the Ems were 15 games below .500 late in the season and ended the season three games over .500, clinching the Northwest League West Division title.
“(It’s a) 76-game schedule you got to play all the way. You can’t be too excited or disappointed about starting off 2-0 or 0-2.” Riddoch said.
Game one of the six-game homestand began Sunday and will continue today at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday through Friday’s games are also slated to begin at 7:05 p.m.