Pat Murphy hadn’t even had the chance to exit. Just moments after the Eugene Emeralds (19-11, 8-4 at home) manager was tossed following Stephen Carmon’s ejection for arguing a strike out call, Ronnie Richardson belted a walk-off home run to center field to defeat the Vancouver Canadians (17-13, 9-8 away) 2-1.
“I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to work in movies,” said Murphy.
The home run was certainly a cinematic end to a slow-moving game that lasted for three hours and eight minutes in front of 2,859 at PK Park. Richardson, the Emeralds’ center fielder and leadoff hitter has proven an affinity for late game clutch at-bats, and hit his second home run of the season.
“I was just looking dead red fastball, trying to put a good swing on it,” said Richardson. “I was just trying to get on base and it carried out of here.”
Home plate umpire Andrew Risley proved to have a short fuse Monday night, tossing Carmon, Murphy, and Vancouver manager Clayton McCullough. Carmon struck out looking to open the ninth inning, and was thrown out for questioning the call, according to Murphy.
“They threw him out, that’s why I went crazy,” said Murphy, who argued vigorously for minutes before being ejected by Risley. On the very next pitch, Richardson sent a blast over the center field wall off Canadians relief pitcher Tucker Donahue (L, 1-1).
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Richardson of the home run. “He got fired up for a reason.”
The Canadians scored their lone run in the third inning, when Jorge Flores ripped a solo home run to left field, giving the Canadians a 1-0 lead. Flores, who also doubled off Ems’ starting pitcher Kyle Ottoson to lead off the first inning, has seven hits in twelve at bats against lefties this season.
After the home run, Emeralds Manager Pat Murphy removed Ottoson from the game. Ottoson, a soft throwing left hander making his first start for the Ems, allowed one run on three hits over two and one third innings.
The Ems missed out on an opportunity to strike back in the bottom half of the third inning. Goose Kallunki lead off with a double down the right field line, but was followed by a Carmon fly out and Richardson ground out. Corey Adamson then reached base on a swinging bunt and Maxx Tissenbaum was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ultimately, the rally was for naught as Jeremy Baltz took a curveball from Avendado for strike three to end the inning.
In the fifth inning, Kallunki hit another lead off double. Thanks to a Carmon ground out that moved Kallunki to third base and an Avendado wild pitch, this time Kallunki did score, tying the game at 1-1.
The Ems threatened again with two outs in the sixth inning, after Alberth Martinez reached first base on a Nick Purdy wild pitch that struck him out. Martinez reached third base on a River Stevens single to center field, despite an on-target throw from Canadians’ center fielder Carlos Ramirez. Kallunki then stepped to the plate with a chance to do further damage, but he popped out to first base to end the frame.
Emeralds’ left-handed relief pitcher Chris Nunn enjoyed an impressive top of the seventh inning, striking out Daniel Arcila, Flores, and Kellen Sweeney in succession, all three of them swinging on fastballs.
The seventh inning meant more base runners stranded by the Emeralds. Carmon lead off with a bloop to center field that dropped between Ramirez and Flores for a single. Carmon moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Richardson, but was thrown out when Purdy snagged Adamson’s comebacker ground ball and noticed Carmon running for third base.
Adamson then stole second base and Tissenbaum walked. Baltz followed with a ground ball up the middle that Flores collected on a dive and attempted to toss to Canadians’ second baseman Daniel Arcila for the force-out, but failed to muster enough strength to make a strong toss, loading the bases for Dane Phillips. Phillips worked a three-balls, no-strikes count, but Purdy countered with three consecutive strikes, sending Phillips away swinging.
In the eighth inning, Nunn went back to work, striking out the side once again to finish with six strikeouts against six hitters over two innings.
“He’s thrown that way all year, it’s pretty unbelievable” said Murphy.
In the ninth inning, Ems’ closer Roman Madrid (W, 1-0) pitched a scoreless frame to set the stage for Carmon, Murphy, and ultimately, Richardson. The win was the Emeralds’ seventh in a row, following a five-game sweep at Spokane and win over Salem-Keizer.
“We’re playing as a team,” said Richardson. “Everybody’s doing their job.”
The Emeralds will take on the Canadians again tomorrow night at 7 PM, at PK Park.