Emeralds Blown Out By Volcanoes, 17-2
The Eugene Emeralds (12-11, 6-4 at home), donning electric blue jersey tops circa 1988 as part of “Throwback Sunday”, were far from electric on the field Sunday at PK Park, dropping the second game of their three-game home series against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (10-14, 5-5 away), 17-2.
Emeralds starting pitcher Will Scott (L, 1-3) got off to a rough start in the first inning, after Mike Mergenthaler ripped a ground-rule double over left fielder Jeremy Baltz’s head and Chuckie Jones followed with an infield single.
Joseph Rapp (3-5, 6 RBI) stepped to the plate, and crushed a three-run home run well over the left field wall. Next up was Stephen Yarrow, who was quick to add on with a solo home run of his own, past the outstretched arms of right fielder Corey Adamson, putting the Emeralds in a 4-0 hole before taking their first round of at-bats.
“Fastballs up,” Scott said. “Every time there’s a fastball waist-high, they’re going to drive it out.”
Scott faced further trouble in the second inning. After Matt Duffy drew a two-out walk, Mergenthaler’s swinging bunt was picked up by catcher Miguel Del Castillo, whose throw sailed wide of first base. Duffy hustled all the way from first base to beat out Adamson’s throw from right field and stake the Volcanoes to a 5-0 lead.
The Ems continued to pay for Del Castillo’s error when Chuckie Jones hammered a double off the left field wall, scoring Mergenthaler and extending the Volcanoes’ lead to 6-0. Scott would be removed after the inning, finishing with six runs (four earned) on five hits and a walk over two innings.
“He hasn’t been throwing the ball well all year,” said Emeralds Manager Pat Murphy. “Usually he bobs and weaves and gives us five (innings), but they knocked him out.”
In the bottom half of the second inning, the Ems got on the board against Volcanoes’ starting pitcher Kendry Flores (W, 1-1). Baltz lead off with a walk, and was advanced to third base when Dane Phillips’s deep fly ball to the warning track was misplayed by Volcanoes right fielder Andrew Cain, dropping in and bouncing over the short porch for a ground-rule double. After Del Castillo’s soft comebacker at Flores failed to score Baltz, Corey Adamson grounded out to second base, bringing Baltz home and cutting the Volcanoes’ lead to 6-1.
The third inning meant more chipping away for the Emeralds. Stephen Carmon hit a two-out solo home run over the right field wall to pin the score at 6-2. River Stevens and Baltz followed with back-to-back singles, but were stranded on first and third base when Dane Phillips’ pop fly to shallow left field was basket caught by left fielder Rafael Rodriguez.
Flores kept the Ems at bay for the remainder of his outing, finishing with two earned runs on four hits and one walk over one inning.
A pair of mishandled pickoff attempts by Emeralds first baseman Dane Phillips, who most often plays catcher, allowed the Volcanoes to add on to their lead in the sixth inning. After Rafael Rodriguez reached first base with a one-out single, Ems’ left-handed relief pitcher Mark Picca caught him leaning and appeared to have Rodriguez picked off. However, Phillips bobbled the exchange from glove to throwing hand, allowing Rodriguez to reach second base safely.
Sam Eberle followed with a single to left field, and was subsequently also caught leaning by Picca. Again, Phillips fumbled the baseball, but noticed Rodriguez charging home from third base and threw home, catching the Volcanoes’ left fielder in a rundown. Rodriguez stalled the Emeralds from tagging him out long enough to allow Eberle to reach third base.
The Emeralds paid for the miscues when Picca’s pitch to Cain trickled past Del Castillo for a passed ball, allowing Eberle to score and extending the Volcanoes’ lead to 7-2.
“These kids are playing pro ball for the first time, they’re not always going to be comfortable,” said Murphy.
Any hopes the Emeralds had for a comeback were severely dampened in the eighth inning when relief pitchers Mike Watt and Collin Reynolds were knocked around for eight runs, blowing the game open to a score of 15-2. Mergenthaler opened up the scoring with a two-RBI single, followed by a River Stevens throwing error on a Kentrell Hill groundball, scoring Matt Duffy.
The bleeding continued when Joe Rapp singled home Mergenthaler, eliciting Murphy to remove Watt and bring in Reynolds. Emeralds second baseman Cody Gabella did little to help Reynolds escape the jam when he bobbled an apparent double-play ball to load the bases.
After Reynolds walked Brennan Metzger to score Hill, Eberle cleared the bases with a double down the left field line. Metzger’s run, the fifteenth of the game for the Volcanoes, signified the season high in runs allowed by the Emeralds.
The Volcanoes weren’t quite done yet. In the ninth inning, in which the Emeralds used two position players at pitcher – Clark Murphy and Gabella – Rapp hit a two-run double, scoring Duffy and Mergenthaler, bringing the game to its final score, 17-2. Clark Murphy left the game after signaling to some discomfort in his elbow, though Manager Pat Murphy asserted that his arm was fine.
“There’s not anything structurally wrong, he just didn’t feel right and I told him if he feels anything at all wrong, come on out of there.”
The Emeralds and Volcanoes will play the series’ rubber match Monday night at 7 PM, at PK Park.