Corey Adamson capped a tenth inning rally with a bases-loaded walk-off single to beat the Spokane Indians 5-4 and vault the Eugene Emeralds to a half-game lead over the Vancouver Canadians for the West division second half title.
The Emeralds mobbed Adamson following the Australian native’s game winning hit, which came after the Indians came back from a 3-0 deficit and eventually took the lead 4-3 in the top of the tenth inning.
“All I was thinking was stay through the ball, try and stay the other way,” said Adamson. “I got my pitch with a 2-1 count, and hit it as well as I could.”
The Emeralds opened up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when designated hitter Edwin Moreno ripped a line drive home run into the home bullpen in right field. Moreno had been hitless in five at-bats over two games since being called up to the Emeralds.
First baseman Goose Kallunki followed with an opposite-field double and was advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Alberth Martinez. Shortstop Stephen Carmon and Adamson both walked to load the bases, and when Indians catcher Patrick Cantwell was unable to locate the ball after a Valdespina wild pitch, Kallunki scored to put the Emeralds up 2-0.
After netting two strikeouts in the third inning, Ems’ starting pitcher Joe Ross opened the fourth inning with another, this time getting shortstop Gabe Roa swinging. Left fielder Jake Skole then walked, but Ross escaped the inning with the help of double play combined for by Emeralds’ second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum, shortstop Stephen Carmon, and Kallunki.
The Emeralds added on to their lead in the bottom half of the inning. After Kallunki singled and Martinez walked with one out, Carmon was called out on a close play at first base after attempting to reach base by way of a bunt. Murphy stormed out of the Emeralds dugout to argue the call, and won an appeal to home plate umpire Nestor Ceja, who ruled Carmon safe.
With the bases loaded, Indians third baseman Joey Gallo fielded a Corey Adamson ground ball and threw out Carmon at second base, hoping to turn an inning-ending double play. However, Adamson reached first base safely, allowing Kallunki to score, giving the Ems a 3-0 lead. In the top of the fifth inning, Ross elicited a Ryan Rua ground out and Joey Gallo fly out. Ross then ended his outing in style, striking out right fielder Preston Beck looking to finish with Jseven strikeouts against just one infield hit over five innings pitched.
“I had all my pitches today,” said Ross who was the San Diego Padres’ first round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and whose older brother Tyson pitches for the Oakland A’s, “My changeup was a bit shaky, but my fastball command was good and I was pretty confident with my breaking ball.”
Left-handed relief pitcher Brandon Alger took over for Ross in the top of the sixth inning, and allowed a trio of singles. Following hits by Indians’ first baseman Barrett Serrato and Roa, Skole drove Serrato home, with a ground ball to left field, bringing the score to 3-1.
Alger’s struggles continued in the seventh inning. With one out, Gallo and Beck both singled to put runners on first and second base. After fielding a Cantwell ground ball, Kallunki stepped on first base for the out and saw Beck scrambling after taking a big turn around second base only to notice third base was occupied by Gallo. Kallunki attempted to throw Beck out at second base, but his throw sailed into center field, allowing Gallo to score and Beck to reach third base.
Alger then walked Serrato and was replaced by right-handed relief pitcher Tony Wieber. Indians’ center fielder Chris Garia welcomed Wieber with a line drive single to center field, scoring Beck and knotting the score at 3-3.
The Indians appeared primed to strike again in the eighth inning. Left-handed relief pitcher Chris Nunn yielded a single to Royce Bolinger and walks to Rua and Gallo, loading the bases with one out. Right-handed relief pitcher Roman Madrid spelled Nunn and pitched to a three-ball count before escaping by way of a double play, from Tissenbaum to Carmon to Kallunki.
Madrid continued to pitch well in the ninth inning, netting two strikeouts and line out. After the Emeralds failed to walk off in the bottom of the ninth, right-handed relief pitcher Matthew Shepherd (W, 4-2) replaced Madrid, and allowed a walk to Roa, who advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Bollinger followed with a double to left field, scoring Roa and giving the Indians a 4-3 lead.
The Emeralds were not done yet, however, as pinch hitter Ronnie Richardson drew a leadoff hit-by-pitch off of right-handed relief pitcher Carlos Melo (L, 1-3) and promptly stole second base. After Kallunki singled, his third hit of the night, moving Richardson to third base, he was pinch run for by Felix Cabrera.
Martinez then lined a single to left field, scoring Richardson and bringing the score to a 4-4 tie. After Carmon walked to load the bases, Adamson stepped to the plate, looking for a fastball.
“All four pitches were fastball away,” said Adamson, who slammed the fourth to left field for a walk-off single. “I was sitting on it by that time.”
Elsewhere in the Northwest League, the Canadians lost 9-1 to the Yakima Bears. The Emeralds have three remaining games, and the Canadians have four. The Emeralds must finish one game ahead of the Canadians in the standings to win the West division title, as the Canadians own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Emeralds play the Indians again on Wednesday night at 7:05 PM at PK Park.