It was déjà vu for the Eugene Emeralds.
An unlikely worst-to-first run last year for the Emeralds ended in one of the most peculiar ways one can see a baseball game end.
The Emeralds had a bases loaded situation with Nelson Velazquez up to face pitcher Emmanuel Clase of the Spokane Indians. Clase began his pitching motion and then caught his spike on the mound, thus stumbling a few steps down to the left. The balk ended the season in heartbreak for the Indians and in trimuph for the Emeralds.
The first run of the 2019 season came the same way last season ended, with a balk. The two-run bottom of the second inning proved to be enough to muster a 2-0 win against the Hillsboro Hops to begin the season.
“We balk-off last year and now we got two balks this year,” first-year Emeralds manager Lance Rymel said. “If they want to keep giving them to us, we’ll keep taking them.”
Jake Slaughter opened up the bottom of the second with a double to center field to put a runner in scoring position early in the inning for the Emeralds. Jonathan Soto singled on a ground ball to put two runners on with no outs. That’s when déjà vu struck.
Edmond Americaan was at the plate with two on and no out. But Hops' Luis Frias balked giving the Em’s the first run of the season and the 4,023 person-crowd in PK Park on their feet early. Americaan followed with a double to left field giving the Emeralds a 2-0 run early on in the game.
“Got the two and kind of sat on them for a little bit,” Rymel said “We were swinging nothing just fell for us.”
The Em’s were able to sit on a minuscule lead due to a strong outing from their pitching staff.
Right handed pitcher Zach Mort got the first start of the season for the Em’s and he delivered. Mort went four innings only giving up three hits and struck out five.
Eduarniel Nunez came in for relief of Mort, giving another strong performance. Nunez went two innings, giving up no runs and punching out one batter. Carlos Vega came in for two innings of relief and struck out three to earn his first victory of the season.
Ivan Medina put the cap on a strong day from the bullpen going one inning and giving up one hit to earn his first save of the season.
“That was pretty impressive by our whole pitching staff who pitched today,” Rymel said.
The Emeralds will look for the series win tomorrow with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Follow Gabriel Ornelas on Twitter @gabe_ornelas