It was another rough night for the Eugene Emeralds on Friday, losing by a final score of 10-4.
The Everett AquaSox once again jumped on Eugene’s starting pitcher in the first inning, this time left-hander Didier Vargas. A leadoff single, hit-by-pitch, walk and double helped to push across three runs in the first frame.
Unlike Thursday night, however, the Emeralds fought back in the bottom half thanks to a leadoff triple by center fielder Fernando Kelli and a subsequent sacrifice fly by Nelson Maldonado. For Maldonado, it was his first plate appearance and RBI at the short season class-A level.
Vargas ran into more trouble in the second, recording just one out and allowing two more runs. Eugene manager Lance Rymel then lifted Vargas in favor of righty Maikel Aguiar, who ran into plenty of trouble of his own. Two and two-thirds innings, four runs and eight walks later, he too was removed in a 9-1 game.
Offensively for Eugene, it was once again a mix of old and new faces as the team continues to work in their 2019 MLB draftees.
“I felt good,” said Grayson Byrd, one of the recent draftees to join the Emeralds. “A lot of new names so I’m trying to get used to that, but at the end of the day it’s just baseball.”
As a unit, Eugene pitching combined to issue 15 free passes, five of which eventually came around to score. The big blow of the ballgame offensively for Everett came from Cade Marlowe via a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to put them up 7-1.
From there, the Emeralds were playing from well behind for the second consecutive night.
“You’re trying to get on base a little bit more. You’re a little less aggressive on the bases,” Byrd said. “At the plate, you’re trying to compete and have quality at-bats every time you go up there.”
Just as they got down big in the early stages of the game for the second night in a row, the Emeralds once again staged a rally in the late innings. Three doubles, a triple and a home run in the ninth inning plated three, two coming on a home run off the bat of shortstop Luis Vasquez.
It wasn’t a great night on the hill for Eugene, but 22-year-old Riley McCauley stepped up in the late going, tossing two scoreless frames.
The standout for the AquaSox was lefty Jorge Benitez, who tossed four dazzling relief innings while punching out seven and walking just one.
Everett will send right-hander Damon Casetta-Stubbs to the mound Saturday night as they go for the sweep. Southpaw Chris Allen will get the start for Eugene looking to end a three-game skid. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.