Phillips Single, Volcano Errors Drive 3-1 Emeralds Victory
A fifth inning rally aided by a pair of defensive errors and a two-RBI single by Dane Phillips vaulted the Eugene Emeralds (12-10, 6-3 at home) past the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (9-14, 4-5 away) Saturday night, 3-1.
The Ems put Volcanoes starting pitcher Raymundo Montero (1-3) in the stretch early and often, compiling seven base runners in the first four innings, but failed to bring anybody home. In the fifth inning, the Emeralds once again put Montero in the stretch, when Ronnie Richardson opened the inning with a walk. Stephen Carmon, looking to put Richardson in scoring position, laid down a bunt, which Montero gathered and airmailed past first baseman Joe Rapp, allowing Carmon to reach base.
The Volcanoes’ fielding miscues in the inning were not finished. River Stevens hit a ground ball at Rapp, who attempted to throw Carmon out at second base. Rapp overthrew shortstop Matt Duffy, and Ronnie Richardson hurried home as the ball rolled into the outfield, allowing the Emeralds to finally break through and knot the score at 1-1.
After Jeremy Baltz loaded the bases with a ground ball single to right field, Volcanoes Manager Tom Trebelhorn removed Montero from the game and brought in left-handed relief pitcher Randy Zeigler.
The Emeralds jumped on Zeigler with haste, when Dane Phillips’s soft line drive up the middle trickled past Duffy and second baseman Ryan Jones, scoring Carmon and Stevens, and pinning the Emeralds to a 3-1 lead.
The outburst would be all the Ems needed, as neither team reached past first base for the remainder of the game.
Salem-Keizer got on the board quickly in the first inning, when Chuckie Jones ripped a solo home run off Emeralds starting pitcher Chris Fetter to left field with two outs.
“I left that pitch right down the middle,” said Fetter. “It was a 3-2 count, so, they can pretty much assume that it’s going to be a fastball. He got a good swing on it, and all the credit goes to him. It was a poor pitch though.
Fetter, who has been with the Emeralds on a rehab assignment stemming from Tommy John surgery, battled hitter’s counts to finish with one earned run on two hits and a walk, over three innings pitched. Short stints have become commonplace for Fetter this season – he has not exceeded three innings pitched in any of his five games started for the Emeralds in 2012.
“The elbow feels fine,” said Fetter, “Just getting out there again, getting consistent with my delivery again.”
Emeralds Manager Pat Murphy spoke of Fetter’s veteran resilience and leadership while on assignment in Eugene.
“He didn’t throw the ball nearly the way he’s capable of, but he knows it, and he’s veteran enough to get by, and not put us in a big hole. I don’t know whether it’s his last start or not. The organization will make that decision. We’re happy he’s a part of our team. He’s a great leader, and great for the other young people.”
Fetter was relieved in the fourth inning by Brandon Alger (2-0), who was credited with the win after pitching three scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing only one hit. In the seventh inning, Chris Haney took over and threw two perfect innings. Roman Madrid (S,3) pitched the ninth inning, striking out three and walking one to lock up the Emeralds’ victory.
Though the Volcanoes finished with only three hits, the damage could have been far more severe if not for the defensive performance of Emeralds’ right fielder Corey Adamson, who ranged deep and wide to deprive the Volcanoes of numerous apparent hits.
“Those are all doubles or better,” said Murphy. “It’s hard for a right fielder that only got one hit to change the game like that. The job Adamson did was incredible.”
The Volcanoes, meanwhile, struggled mightily in the field, especially in the error-assisted fifth inning Emeralds rally.
“They gave us a couple of runs there by not handling balls,” Murphy said. “But they’re normally a really good defensive team.”
The Emeralds struggled to convert with runners on base in the first four innings before receiving assistance from a pair of errant throws in the fifth inning.
In the first inning, Stephen Carmon doubled with one out, but was stranded after a pair of groundouts by River Stevens and Jeremy Baltz. In the second inning, a two-out Adamson single followed by a Clark Murphy hit-by-pitch were wasted when Chris O’Dowd grounded out to Montero.
The third inning held a similar fate for the Emeralds, when Ronnie Richardson hit a leadoff single, but was thrown out attempting to steal second base. After River Stevens singled with two outs, he too was stranded when Jeremy Baltz lined out. The Emeralds did not cash in on singles by Chris Burke and Clark Murphy in the fourth inning either.
In the fifth inning, the Emeralds finally broke through.
“For young hitters early in the game, it’s a tough hitting background sometimes, and it’s hard to score runs. But you just keep knocking at the door,” said Murphy.
The Emeralds will continue their three-game series against the Volcanoes at PK Park on Sunday at 1 pm at PK Park.