The Eugene Emeralds are no longer in first place.
They lost 9-4 at Funko Field on Wednesday to the Everett AquaSox, who overtook them by a half-game atop the High-A West standings. The loss is the Emeralds’ third in a row, and puts them behind 2-0 in the series. They’re now in danger of losing their first series of the year.
The AquaSox struck immediately against Eugene right-hander Nick Avila. Everett recorded a single, a double and a single, and led 3-0 after three batters in the bottom of the first.
The Emeralds clawed back in the second, with a single and a walk opening the inning. The runners pulled off a double steal to move into scoring position, and Ismael Munguia got the Emeralds on the board with a sacrifice fly in his return to the lineup after playing for Team Nicaragua. They came away with just the one run though, as Patrick Bailey’s strikeout woes continued.
It wasn’t a one-run game for long, as three batters into the bottom of the second, the AquaSox had already scratched out another run against the struggling Avila.
The Emeralds’ offense recorded just one hit through the first four innings while striking out in order in the fourth.
Avila pitched a scoreless third, but three more hits in the fourth extended the AquaSox’ lead to 4-1 and knocked him out of the game. He left with runners on the corners and no outs, and reliever Jasier Herrera allowed both inherited runners to score.
The Emeralds got one back in the fifth. Munguia walked, advanced to second on a Simon Whiteman single, tagged up on a fly out and scored on a Will Wilson groundout to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Eugene loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate in the sixth, but Whiteman struck out as the Emeralds blew a huge opportunity.
Herrera, who had pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, allowed a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up another run in the seventh to make it 8-2, and ended up going 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out three.
John Timmins gave up another Everett home run in the eighth, putting the AquaSox up 9-2.
Munguia singled in the ninth, and with two outs, the slumping Wilson drove him home with a single. Sean Roby hit another RBI single, and Tyler Fitzgerald kept the game alive with a single that loaded the bases. But the hole was far too deep to dig out of, and Everett took the second straight game to open the series with a 9-4 victory over Eugene.
The Emeralds (19-13) will look to regain possession of first place in Game 3 of the series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.