Emeralds Return Home with 9-1 VictoryAfter fourteen straight days on the road, the (10-9; 4-2 home; 6-7 away) Eugene Emeralds returned to a sellout crowd at PK Park to face off against the (15-5) Everett AquaSox to finish off what was a gorgeous Fourth of July in Eugene.
During their long trip away from home, the Emeralds posted a less than ideal 6-7 record, falling to third place in the Northwest League West. They currently sit behind the Aquasox and the (12-7) Vancouver Canadians.
On a night were fireworks could be seen and heard around PK Park, early runs and dominant pitching were all the Ems needed as they started off the home-stand on the right foot, defeating the AquaSox 9-1. Eugene starter Justin Hancock used a bevy of pitches to baffle Everett hitters on the way to his most dominant performance of the season yet.
Though they would remain scoreless for the last six innings of the game, the Emeralds used runs in each of the first three innings to give themselves the cushion they needed for the victory on the Fourth of July. Hancock welcomed the sellout crowd in PK Park with a breezy first inning as he retired the AquaSox in order.
On the hill for Everett was Ambrioris Hidalgo (1-0, 5.40 ERA), making his second appearance on the season.
The Ems started the game off quickly as both Ronnie Richardson and Jason Hagerty scored in the bottom-half of the first inning to put the Emeralds up 2-0 with plenty of game to play. Richardson, who led off the game for the Emeralds, would reach first after being hit by a pitch while subsequently stealing second with one out in the inning.
After Emeralds first-baseman Dane Phillips flew out to right field, Richardson was plated on a single into right field by catcher Jason Hagerty. Hagery would then come around on a double into the right-field corner by Emeralds left-fielder Jeremy Baltz. The Emeralds would walk away from the first inning leading 2-0, scoring two runs on two hits.
Hancock would once again make a brief inning of the AquaSox as he set struck out Patrick Kivlehan and Alfredo Morales en route to a 1-2-3 bottom-of-the-second inning.
In the bottom-half of the inning, the Ems would find themselves plating another run in the form of Brian Adams. Only collecting one hit during the inning, the Emeralds used the speed of Adams to steal second base to put him in prime scoring position with nobody out in the inning. After being moved to third on a swinging bunt by Chris Burke and a walk to Stephen Carmon, Adams came around to score on a 6-4 fielders choice by Ronnie Richardson.
The Emeralds would walk away from the inning with a 3-0 lead after Corey Adamson struck out to retire the Emeralds. The AquaSox would put their first runner on base in the top-of-the-third inning in the form of Marcus Littlewood. Despite advancing to second-base on a wild-pitch by Hancock after getting on base with a walk, Littlewood would not find his way home as they next three batters were retired in order.
The Ems would add yet another run in the third inning, this time in the form of Dane Phillips. After scoring on a single by Jeremy Baltz, the Emeralds would not be able to put any more runs across the plate despite having runners on first and third with just one out due to a batter-interference by Brian Adams after he struck out. Although River Stevens was never actually tagged out on his steal attempt, since Adams obstructed the throw of Everett catcher Marcus Littlewood, Stevens was called out at second, ending the inning for the Emeralds.
Although Emeralds starter Justin Hancock would surrender his first hit in the game to Jean Acevedo on a single into left, the 21 year old continued his impressive outing as he struck out two more batters in the fourth, stranding Acevedo at first base.
Despite settling down and holding the Emeralds scoreless in the fourth, an increasing pitch count created the need for Everett Starter Ambioris Hidalgo to be pulled after four and two-thirds innings. Hidalgo surrendered four runs on four hits while striking out three and walking three. Blake Hauser, a right-hander from Mosley, Virginia came in to finish the fifth off for Hidalgo as the Emeralds were held scoreless for just their second inning in the game.
Making a pitching change of their own, the Emeralds pulled starter Justin Hancock after five brilliant innings where he only gave up one hit. Hancock finished the night with five innings pitched, no runs on one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts. He was replaced by right-handed relief pitcher Chris Haney who would continue the Emeralds dominance of AquaSox batters as he retired Everett in order in the sixth.
After six innings of being shutout, the Everette AquaSox were able to put a runner across the plate in the form of Taylor Ard. Back-to-back singles from Taylor Ard and Jean Acevedo took Emeralds reliever Chris Haney, being replaced with left-handed reliever Chris Nunn. With runners on second and first with nobody out, Nunn struck-out both Patrick Kivlehan and Alfredo Morales before surrendering an RBI single to Marcus Littlewood. Though they would still have runners on first and second, the AquaSox were only able to plate one runner as Janelfry Zorilla ended the seventh inning threat with a ground-out to third.
In the bottom-half of the seventh, the Emeralds would strike for three more runs to give themselves a six run cushion with just two innings left to play. After loading up the bases with two outs, the Emeralds took advantage of Everett reliever Dominic Leone, plating runs on a walk to Jeremy Baltz and a River Stevens two-run single. The Emeralds came out of the inning up 7-1.
After the AquaSox put yet another zero up on the board in their half of the eighth inning, Ronnie Richardson brought the crowd to their feet as he hit what can be thought of as an error-assisted inside the park home run. Already having doubled into the left-center gap to plate Chris Burke, Richardson was awarded home after an errant throw that went into the Everett dugout from the relay, further extending the Emeralds lead to eight runs.
The lead would remain at eight as the Emeralds brought in right-handed reliever Tony Wieber to close out the blowout victory. Wieber set the AquaSox down in order as he struck-out the side, giving the Emeralds a great 9-1 victory on the Fourth of July.