The Eugene Emeralds waited anxiously on the top step of the dugout as Chris Wright leaned in. As soon as he recorded the third out of the ninth inning — a groundout to Brett Auerbach — they knew they had done it. They piled on top of each other on the field, reveling in the glory of all their hard work paying off.
In their first season as a Giants affiliate, the Emeralds are the High-A West Champions.
They bounced back from Thursday night’s loss to take down the Spokane Indians 5-0 at Avista Stadium on Friday, clinching a 3-1 Championship Series victory. The Emeralds owned the best record in the High-A West during the regular season and won the title in a very stress-free manner.
They struck first in the second inning, when Sean Roby led off with a double and scored on Tyler Fitzgerald’s sacrifice fly.
From there, it was smooth sailing as Ryan Murphy did what he’s done all season — dominate. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
The Emeralds added two more in the fifth on a two-run blast by top prospect Marco Luciano, who hadn’t homered in more than 30 games.
They added even more breathing room in the eighth as Ismael Munguia and Auerbach hit back-to-back bombs. The Emeralds could nearly taste the champagne at that point.
With Wright on the mound for the ninth and a 10-run lead, there was little doubt whether the Emeralds would finish things off. Wright allowed a two-out triple, but induced a groundout to Auerbach on the very next pitch, lifting a weight off the shoulders of an Emeralds team that experienced plenty of ups and downs in their first year as a full-season team.
Now begins the offseason. The Emeralds will get some much-deserved time off before gearing up for next year and doing it all over again.
The Emeralds left an undeniable impact on the city of Eugene and the Giants organization in their first year as part of the new High-A West league. They surpassed high expectations, bringing pride to Eugene and San Francisco sports fans alike.