Oh, those bases on balls.
The Eugene Emeralds lost 8-6 in their first matchup of the season against the Everett AquaSox at Funko Field on Tuesday. Both teams drew a slew of walks, with each team recording 11 free passes in the back-and-forth affair. With the loss, the Emeralds still maintain a 0.5-game lead over the AquaSox for first place in the High-A West, as they dive into the rest of what will be a critical six-game series.
The Emeralds kicked the game off with a bang, as Simon Whiteman led off the game with a homer. The lead didn’t last long, as the AquaSox rallied for a run off Conner Nurse in the bottom of the first. Nurse stranded the bases loaded though, keeping the game tied.
Everett struck again with a two-out rally in the third. A walk and a two-run homer made it 3-1, and a pair of hits extended the AquaSox’ lead to 4-1.
The Emeralds got one back with a Tyler Fitzgerald RBI single in the top of the fourth, but Everett responded with a run of their own to regain the three-run lead. Nurse wound up pitching four innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four.
Bryce Tucker came in for Eugene in the fifth and struggled with his control. He walked four in the inning, the last of which brought in the second run of the frame as the Emeralds fell behind 7-2.
But the Eugene offense fought back with a walk barrage of their own. They topped the four walks drawn by the AquaSox in the fifth with five walks in the sixth, contributing to a three-run rally. In the seventh, two more walks and a single by Fitzgerald got the Emeralds within a run, 7-6.
Taylor Rashi struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, but then gave up a double and a single that made it 8-6 Everett.
The Emeralds’ offense went down quietly, failing to ignite a late rally. First-rounders Patrick Bailey and Will Wilson went a combined 0-for-9 from the No. 2 and 3 hole, respectively. The loss cuts Eugene’s lead in the High-A West to a mere 0.5 games.
The Emeralds (19-12) will look to stay in first place with Game 2 of the six-game series against the AquaSox (18-12) on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.