The Eugene Emeralds secured at least a tie with the Spokane Indians atop the High-A West on Sunday, pending the Spokane Indians’ final game later Sunday evening. They won 8-4 over the Tri-City Dust Devils at Gesa Stadium, taking four out of five in their last series of the regular season.
Their final regular season record in their first year as a full season team is 69-50. Regardless of the result of Spokane’s game, the Emeralds and Indians will compete in the High-A West Championship Series next week.
The Emeralds struck first, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. After Franklin Labour singled and a Kwan Adkins walk, the duo successfully executed a double steal, and Brett Auerbach walked to load the bases.
Marco Luciano struck out as his struggles at the High-A level continued. But Jairo Pomares came in clutch with two outs, hitting a two-run single. Sean Roby followed with another single to put a third run on the board.
Blake Rivera, the Giants’ No. 28 prospect, gave a strong outing on the mound. He pitched the first three innings, keeping the Dust Devils off the board. He gave up five hits, but didn’t walk anyone and struck out six.
Ty Weber made just his second appearance as an Emerald, following up Rivera’s performance with a scoreless inning of his own.
The trouble came when Nick Morreale entered the game in the fifth inning. The first batter hit a bunt single and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tyler Fitzgerald, and a subsequent single and a double brought in two runs before Morreale could record an out.
A wild pitch brought in a third run that tied the game, but Morreale stopped the damage there. The offense struck right back in the bottom of the inning, as Luciano, Roby and Fitzgerald all came through with RBI hits. Labour put the icing on the cake by reaching on an error — the second of the inning — to put Eugene back on top 7-3.
The Dust Devils got one back in the seventh when Kenyon Yovan homered off Tyler Schimpf. It was Yovan’s fifth professional home run, and it came in the penultimate at-bat of his first professional season. Schimpf otherwise struck out the side after Solomon Bates did the same in the sixth inning.
Ricardo Genoves returned the favor in the bottom of the eighth, hitting a solo homer to make it a four run game again.
Nick Avila and Austin Reich pitched a clean eighth and ninth, respectively. Reich struck out the first two he faced in the ninth before the game was extended on an error by Carter Aldrete. That allowed Yovan to have one last at-bat in what was quite an eventful season for him — it’s easy to forget that he was playing for the Ducks earlier this year.
Yovan grounded out, securing the Emeralds’ 8-4 victory and 4-1 series win.
With the regular season complete, the Emeralds will look to take down the Indians in the High-A West Championship Series. It will be a best-of-five series starting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Avista Stadium. The Emeralds will not be able to host any postseason games due to their lease expiring and being taken over by the Oregon baseball team.