Ronnie Richardson‘s 11th inning walkoff single got the Ems (7-12) their first three-game series win, beating Hillsboro (4-15) in Game Two, 3-2.
Eugene got a quality outing from starter Jeffery Enloe and relief from Jairo Gomez to mark up with the Hops’ arms, headlined by Arizona Diamondbacks first rounder Braden Shipley. However, Shipley was done after two innings, while Enloe looked impressive through six.
Monday’s starter Erik Schoenrock also went longer than what has been the norm, taking his start through seven innings.
“Both of those guys, last night Schoenrock and Enloe tonight — they did a good job,” manager Jim Gabella said. “When they’re pitching well we’ll keep them out there as long as we can as long as they don’t go over their pitch count.”
Enloe threw the ever-so-elusive three-pitch inning, in fact, in this one; three popups in the third sent the Hops packing that time.
Through the bottom of the seventh, that’s the way it went: quick and efficient. A combined 15 strikeouts against 8 total hits, and the first 6.5 innings took less than two hours. After the seventh-inning stretch, the Ems brought in a run.
Hillsboro answered twice, once in the eighth and once in the ninth, and Bernard returned fire once more in the bottom of the ninth to tie it.
After Will Locante the first two base runners on in the eleventh, a bunt put two in scoring position with one out. Richardson then sent a grounder bouncing down the first base line for the winning shot.
“It feels good, we’ve been struggling all year, trying to get offense started. Last couple games, we’ve been playing pretty good baseball,” Richardson said.
Locante started the ninth for the Hops with a 2-1 lead, so he is credited with a blown save (2) and the loss (0-1). A blown save went also to Ems pitcher Josh Richardson (1) who came on in the eighth with a 1-0 lead and left with the game tied at 1.
Genison Reyes started the 11th and thus gets the win (1-1), a vulture win Garrett Cleavinger would be proud of.
Richardson said he was actually running away from the team right after his hit, hoping to not get tackled like he did the last time he had a walkoff hit. He couldn’t quite get away, however.
“It’s all fun and games. After a win like that, it’s huge,” he said.
Sudden-death fashion was the only way either team would have won this one. Both teams gave up several advantages to their opponent: four Hops errors were cancelled out by the Ems’ anemic .111 batting average with runners in scoring position.
“We struggled with situational hitting — with men on base. We struggled with that today,” Gabella said. “But hey, you know that happens. We got the big hit when we needed it.”
Bernard had the team’s first two RBI, but didn’t record a hit in this one; Michael Bass likewise didn’t have a hit, but scored the first two runs. Just a couple of examples of the weirder elements of a game that teetered on weird baseball territory.