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Eugene Emeralds’ offensive eruption leads to 10-8 win over Tri-City Dust Devils

After combining for four runs in their previous two games, the Eugene Emeralds and Tri-City Dust Devils had an offensive explosion Friday night, with the Emeralds coming out on top 10-8.

“I’m proud of the guys, they scored 10 runs,” first-year Emeralds manager Pat Murphy said. “They’re just a good defensive team. They pitch well and swing the bat well. They’re a well-rounded team. It’s a good victory for us.”

The Emeralds opened the scoring in a bizarre way in the bottom of the first inning when second baseman Justin Miller hit a single to right field with shortstop Jace Peterson on second base. Tri-City right fielder Juan Crousset threw home to try and get Peterson, but it sailed 15 feet into the netting behind home plate, allowing Miller to advance to second base. Dust Devils catcher Ryan Casteel threw to third base to try and cut Miller down, but his throw sailed past the base and into left field, allowing Miller to score.

Tri-City put a run on the board in the top of the second inning when third baseman Jayson Langfels hit a first-pitch leadoff home run to left-center field off Emeralds starter Juan Herrera, who would not surrender another baserunner until the fifth inning.

Eugene got that run back in the bottom of the inning when diminutive catcher Jeremy Rodriguez scored from second base on a one-out single to right field from Peterson.

Former Oregon pitcher Erik Stavert got the start for Tri-City — his first with the team this season — going two innings and giving up three runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout.

“Usually, a kid’s first outing in pro ball goes one way or another,” Murphy said. “I know the kid’s better than what he pitched, but we took advantage, that was good, and we swung the bat good.”

The Emeralds broke the game open in the fourth inning when they sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring six runs against Dust Devils reliever Nelson Gonzalez. After a one-out walk, left fielder Jose Dore scored on a single to left field from center fielder Kyle Gaedele. Miller drove Gaedele in on a line-drive single to left field, before Peterson and Miller were driven in on a two-run triple into the right field corner from third baseman Travis Whitmore.

“He just missed with a fastball in; I thought he was going to come in again,” Whitmore said. “He did and left it out over the plate a little bit, and it topspun itself into the corner.”

After first baseman Zach Kometani was hit by Gonzalez, Tri-City put in pitcher Chris Dennis, who promptly served up a two-run double to designated hitter Matt Colantonio, who was a last-minute replacement for Dan Killian, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms.

With a layoff of more than half an hour between innings, Herrera struggled to regain the control that had allowed him to strike out seven batters without issuing a walk. Herrera walked the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning, Casteel, and then threw a wild pitch to allow him to get to second base. Crousset hit into a fielder’s choice, with Casteel tagged out at third base.

“Herrera was lights-out for four and then the long layoff, he couldn’t get back on track,” Murphy said.

After that, the Dust Devils began a hit parade, running off four straight base hits and plating four runs in the process. Tri-City pinch hitter Matt Argyropoulos capped off the scoring with an infield single to score center fielder Brian Humphries, making the score 9-6 in favor of Eugene.

The Emeralds put another run up in the bottom of the fifth inning when Whitmore hit a bases-loaded single to score Rodriguez from third base.

“Whitmore has also played very, very well as of late,” Murphy said. “It’s been about five, six games in a row, he’s been really good.”

The Dust Devils scored a run in the eighth inning when Crousset hit a two-out triple and was driven in on a single from shortstop Taylor Featherston.

Tri-City made the ninth inning interesting, scoring a run off Eugene closer Chris Wilkes’ wild pitch with two outs, narrowing the lead to 10-8. However, Wilkes coaxed a deep flyout to center field from Casteel with runners on first and second to end the game.

The Emeralds have the best record in the Northwest League by two games over the Dust Devils, and the two teams meet for the final game of their five-game series Saturday night at 7 p.m. at PK Park.

New Duck Video Released

EUGENE, Ore. — For the past two years, Duck anthems and music videos have gone viral on YouTube, and this year is no exception.

 

A Portland hip-hop artist just released a new Duck-themed song, trying to get it out to fans before fall camp.  It’s called “O-Time.”

 

Could this be the next song to get stuck in your head?

 

It started with Supwitchugirl’s “I Love My Ducks” song before the ’09 Rose Bowl.

 

Then Supwitchugirl came out with another smash hit in time for last year’s ESPN GameDay.

 

And if imitation is the biggest form of flattery, the group should be very, very flattered.

 

We counted seven other songs have been created as an ode to the Ducks.

 

And now Xile, a Portland hip hop artist, just released “O-Time.”

 

“Kind of sparked a trend I guess,” said Hillary O’Brien.

 

In this one we see guest appearances from former Ducks Dennis Dixon, Jonathon Stewart, Ed Dickson and a handful of others who used to don the jersey.

 

“I don’t think you can have too much. It’s school spirit. It gets every one happy. I can’t wait for the next one,” said Sarah Collins.

 

The Supwitchugirl group has made bank off their slogan, “I Love My Ducks.”

 

And some students want to make sure the other artists do it for the morale boost, not the money.

 

“It’s all about school spirit as far as I’m concerned. As long as they keep it to that, I’m good with it,” said Joe Aborah.

 

The only project endorsed by the UO was by the acappella group, On the Rocks, for their song “Call Me a Duck.”

 

Otherwise, each independent venture only helps out the UO’s notoriety.

 

“I think it gets awareness out there for the teams and stuff. It’s cool,” said Amy Warnoch.

 

KEZI couldn’t get in touch with Supwitchugirl to find out when they plan to release their third Duck video.

 

But they previously told us with the amount of money they’ve made off “I Love My Ducks” gear, they should be able to produce a pretty cool video this year.

JOEY IS ONE LUCKY DUCK

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By Sam Finley, EDN

This past week, Joey Harrington pulled off his biggest feat yet.  No, he’s not back in the NFL, hoping for one last shot at glory.  Those days, whatever you may think of his pro career, are over.

Rather, what happened to him transcends anything that happened at Oregon or any other athletic accomplishments.  Let’s review what happened this past week, shall we?

Joey Harrington has been a winner on the field and off. (Photo Courtesy: John Giustina)

On Sunday, the former Oregon quarterback was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle in the the Portland area.   Joey then spent a couple of nights in the hospital with a broken collar bone, a punctured lung, as well as a cut on the head.  Had he not been wearing a helmet, the injuries might’ve been much worse.

Since ending his football career over a decade ago at the U of O, there seem to be two trains of thought on the former Heisman candidate.  One, predominantly held in the Eugene area, is that Joey Harrington is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of Oregon football.  Another, held by many outside the Willamette Valley, is that Joey Harrington was one of the biggest busts to ever put on an NFL uniform.

It is true that Joey Harrington did not have the pro career that many people thought he would have, and that he probably expected to have.  (Though if you look at the overall talent on the offensive lines he had around him, it wasn’t entirely his fault, but that’s a story for another time).

But let me ask you something: When Joey collided with that car, do you think he was regretting that his days with the Lions, Dolphins, Falcons and Saints weren’t what he’d hoped for?  No, I’m pretty sure that Harrington was thinking that he’s lucky to be alive.  I’m sure he’d agree that his survival was a much bigger miracle than any comeback he led at Autzen, or even winning the Fiesta Bowl in early 2002.

Actually, even before the accident, Joey Harrington exemplified someone who knew that there were more important things in life than sports.  He graduated as a two-time honor student and a degree in business administration.  Harrington is also an accomplished pianist who has occasionally played with notable acts like Blues Traveler and Third Eye Blind.  Moreover, Joey currently has a wife and kid that are probably very happy to still have him around right now.

Add to that list, he has a nonprofit foundation that he established with his initial signing bonus with the Lions.  Clearly, this is a guy who knew that football was only going to take him so far in this world and that it would be smart to have a plan for when it was over.

Are there any current Ducks that fit this description?  I’m sure there are several, but the one that stands out in my mind right now is LaMichael James. 

I still remember when I first interviewed LaMichael on the phone in 2009 for a cover story in Eugene Magazine.  He struck me as a humble kid, and he told me that he prided himself in being a good student more than being a football player.

LaMichael James is not only a top running back, but an Academic All-American as well. (Photo Courtesy: Eric Evans).

A few months later during the spring of 2010, after surviving some off-field controversies (that won’t be rehashed here), LaMichael told the media that his biggest goal was to become an Academic All-American.  Well, at the end of this past season, while he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy (and repeatedly said he didn’t care), he did his accomplish his academic goal

Now, LaMichael may very well become the next Barry Sanders when he reaches the next level.  But there are only so many people who can make that happen. (They are called superstars for a reason). Trust me when I tell you that LMJ is probably going to value his degree (when he graduates) in sports business more than whatever accolades he might receive as a pro.

By now, you might be asking just what is the point of this column?  Too often, many people have become obsessed with how many touchdowns are being scored, how many baskets are being made, or how many home runs are being hit.  As a huge sports fan myself, I’ll admit I might’ve fallen into this category when I was younger.

But while it is fun to savor statistics and athletic feats, sometimes we lose sight of the fact that these guys are human beings.  When they’re in college, they have to take exams and write term papers just like the other students.  When they get out of school, whether they make it to the pros are not (and many do not), they have to figure out how to make a living just like the rest of us.

Even if their athleticism can lead them to the greatest pinnacle in their sports, maybe sometimes it’s better to cheer louder when these guys succeed off the field than on it.  Yes, there are indeed some things that are more important than sports out there.  Just ask Joey Harrington.

Sam Finley has been the EDN Sports Editor since June 2011.  He welcomes your feedback.

Oregon football ranked No. 3 in USA Today coaches poll

The University of Oregon football team earned its highest preseason ranking ever, coming in at No. 3 in the USA Today coaches poll that was released on Thursday. The Ducks received a pair of first-place votes and trailed only the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Prior to this season, Oregon’s highest preseason ranking came in 2001, when the Ducks came in at No. 8 following a co-Pacific-10 Conference Championship in 2000. Last year, Oregon was the 11th-ranked team in the nation in the preseason polls and went on to finish No. 3 in the final polls behind undefeated national champion Auburn and the unbeaten TCU Horned Frogs.

Here’s a look at the poll:

1. Oklahoma (42)
2. Alabama (13)
3. Oregon (2)
4. LSU (2)
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
12. South Carolina
13. Virginia Tech
14. Arkansas
15. TCU
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Notre Dame
19. Auburn
20. Mississippi State
21. Missouri
22. Georgia
23. Florida
24. Texas
25. Penn State

Other Pac-12 schools who received votes: Arizona State, Utah, Arizona, Oregon State and Washington.

Eugene Emeralds pitching dominant in 2-0 over Tri-City Dust Devils

Tuesday night, all of the small plays went the way of the Tri-City Dust Devils against the Eugene Emeralds.

Wednesday night, the script was flipped.

After falling 2-0 to the Dust Devils the night before, the Emeralds won 2-0, thanks to stellar pitching, a well-placed grounder from shortstop Jace Peterson in the seventh inning and a pinch-hit home run from Dan Killian in the eighth inning.

“Our pitching staff, the last two nights, has really given us a chance,” first-year Emeralds manager Pat Murphy said. “Really lucky tonight, we had some things go our way, balls bounce our way. Strike three bounces to the backstop and that runner scores.”

The Emeralds’ (29-18) pitching staff held the Dust Devils (28-19) to three hits for the second straight night, but this time, Eugene’s defense saved runs instead of allowing them. After starting pitcher Cody Hebner had gone 3 2/3 innings without giving up a hit, he found Dust Devils second baseman Timothy Smalling on second base with two outs. Then, Tri-City designated hitter Leonardo Reyes hit a sharp ground ball to the left of Emeralds third baseman Travis Whitmore, who made a diving stop and kept the ball on the infield, keeping Smalling from scoring. It was ruled a single, Tri-City’s first hit of the night, but it was little consolation as Dust Devils third baseman Jayson Langfels struck out looking to end the inning and Hebner’s outing.

“The results turned out in my favor,” Hebner said. “But I didn’t try to think about it too much and just wanted to get my team a chance to win.”

In only his second start of the season, Hebner’s pitching line was four innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts — three swinging — and one walk.

“I was a starter throughout college, so the transition wasn’t too hard; it was a little bit more tough coming out of the bullpen, it’s a lot different mind-set,” Hebner said. “It was a lot of fun but I’m glad to be back on the hill starting games.”

Hebner was relieved by Matt Andriese, who went two shutout innings of his own, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Eugene’s outstanding pitching masked its offensive woes. The Emeralds had only six hits in the game; their first runner to reach second base was designated hitter Donavan Tate with two outs in the sixth inning. A stellar performance from Dust Devils starter Ricardo Ferrer didn’t help the Emeralds’ cause, as he went six innings, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out five batters.

The Emeralds plated their first run in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with one out in the inning against Dust Devils reliever Rhett Ballard. Eugene center fielder Kyle Gaedele reached on a strikeout with a wild pitch, and was followed by a single to right field from catcher Jeremy Rodriguez and a walk by Whitmore. Peterson then hit a ground ball right up the middle to Tri-City shortstop Taylor Featherston, who made a diving stop but was unable to throw to any base, giving Peterson an infield hit and scoring the first run of the game.

“We had bases loaded, one out, their shortstop makes an incredible play, but it doesn’t finish,” Murphy said. “Some things went our way. They’re a good team, they pitch well, they swing the bats, and we’ve held them two six hits in two nights.”

Tri-City left fielder Jaron Shepherd led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk against Emeralds reliever Matthew Stites. The fleet-of-foot Dust Devil was trying to get a lead off first base when Stites threw over and appeared to have picked him off, but he was ruled safe by first base umpire Lee Meyers. After Murphy came out of the Emeralds dugout to argue the call, Meyers conferred with home plate umpire Ed Leopold, who reversed the call. This prompted an eruption from Dust Devils manager Freddy Ocasio, who was ejected from the game.

“I just said, ‘I think you missed something there, and I’m not going away. I think you missed something. I think you need to ask about it,’” Murphy said. “He decided that he might have missed something and he wanted to ask for help to get it right. You don’t always find an umpire confident enough to do that, knowing that once I do that, there’s a really good I’m going to have to admit it and it’s going to blow up.”

The next batter, Dust Devils center fielder Brian Humphries hit a line drive up the middle that hit the left arm of the right-handed Stites before ricocheting to second baseman Justin Miller, who threw to first base to retire Humphries. Stites was immediately removed from the game and replaced by reliever Chris Wilkes, who struck out Smalling to end the inning. Murphy said Stites’ grip was relatively unaffected, but was unable to give further comment about his pitcher’s health.

The Emeralds tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning when pinch-hitter Dan Killian pulled a Ballard fastball into the Emeralds’ bullpen in right field to double their lead.

“Just coming in like that, it’s kind of exciting because you’ve been waiting the whole game, not knowing when you’re going to go in,” Killian said. “You get the call and I tried to do the best I could, got a good pitch to hit, and I did that.”

That was more than Wilkes would need, as he threw a perfect ninth inning with two more strikeouts to earn the save.

“It makes me feel awesome when we put up nine zeros,” Hebner said of his teammates’ shutout performance.

The Emeralds and Dust Devils meet Friday at 7 p.m. at PK Park for the fourth game of their five-game series. Eugene currently is one game above Tri-City for the top record in the Northwest League.

A step further, a step short

The Springfield Titans got one step closer to reaching the American Legion state baseball tournament this summer after making the postseason for the first time in recent history last season. With the core of that team returning, including a pair talented starting pitchers — Thurston graduate Dawson Phinney and Springfield …


Untimely errors lead to Eugene Emeralds’ 2-0 loss to Tri-City Dust Devils

Two defensive plays in the fifth inning defined the Eugene Emeralds’ game against the Tri-City Dust Devils Wednesday night.

With two runners on and no outs, Emeralds starting pitcher John Barbato fielded a tapper to the mound, turned and threw to shortstop Jace Peterson, who was covering second base and set to start a sure double play. Instead, Barbato’s throw went just wide of the bag, allowing all the runners to be safe.

“If you turn the easy double play, you’ll probably be in business,” first-year Emeralds manager Pat Murphy said. “If you don’t turn the double play, it’s a whole ‘nother inning.”

The next batter, Dust Devils third baseman Matt Argyropoulos, hit a ball to Emeralds second baseman Justin Miller, who turned to attempt another double play and threw to Peterson at second base. After the shortstop caught the ball, he threw it over third baseman Travis Whitmore and into the Tri-City dugout. Two runs scored on the play, and they were all the Dust Devils needed to seal a 2-0 victory over the Emeralds at PK Park.

“You throw another error on top of it, both runs are on throwing errors,” Murphy said. “It’s a part of the game at this level. It’s unfortunate and we just didn’t get anything going offensively.”

Both teams had anemic offensive performances against the other’s dazzling starting pitching. The Dust Devils only got three hits in the entire game and only one off Barbato in 5 2/3 innings of work, while the Emeralds only got four hits in the game, all off Tri-City starter Christian Bergman. The Emeralds never sent more than four batters to the plate in any inning.

The closest either team came to scoring in another inning was when Peterson led off the first inning for the Emeralds with a hit down the third-base line and eventually reached third base with two outs. However, first baseman Zach Kometani grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.

The Dust Devils had a runner reach third base in the second inning when, after reaching on an error from Miller, designated hitter Justin Simon was stranded after Juan Crousset flew out to left field with two outs.

Miller was the only Emeralds player to reach base more than once, getting singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

The Emeralds and Dust Devils meet for game three of their five-game set Thursday at 7 p.m. at PK Park. The two teams are currently tied for the best record in the Northwest League.

Eugene Emeralds start homestand with 9-4 win over Tri-City Dust Devils

Eugene Emeralds shortstop Jace Peterson gave his team a good indication of how important it is to be effective leading off, and they followed his lead.

“We wanted to start it off hot, and we did that,” Peterson said. “Hopefully, we can just keep things rolling.”

The 2011 supplemental first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres went 2 for 2 with three walks in five plate appearances, guiding the Emeralds to a 9-4 win in the first game of their five-game series against the Northwest League East Division-leading Tri-City Dust Devils Tuesday night at PK Park.

The Dust Devils roughed up Emeralds starter James Needy, scoring three runs against him in 2 1/3 innings on 70 pitches. Needy gave up five hits and four walks and struck out one batter.

The Emeralds overcame his labored pitching performance with stellar production from the plate and some timely defense.

After Tri-City started the game with two runs in the top of the first inning, the Emeralds rallied to score when second baseman Justin Miller hit a sacrifice fly to right field that was dropped, allowing Peterson to score from third base and trim the deficit to one run.

When the Dust Devils scored again in the top of the second, the Emeralds bounced back to add another run on an RBI single to center field by center fielder Kyle Gaedele to plate catcher Matt Colantonio, narrowing the lead back to one run. Gaedele went 2 for 4 with two singles and three RBI, and Colantonio went 2 for 2 with two singles and reached base in all four of his plate appearances, scoring three runs in the process.

“Peterson and Colantonio put on a show tonight,” first-year Emeralds manager Pat Murphy said. “They really did a nice job accenting that the job is to get to first. They don’t throw you a strike, you take it. If they do, you try to get on base. Both those guys had four or five quality ABs.”

Gaedele made a spectacular catch in the top of the third inning with two runners on and one out on the first batter faced by Emeralds reliever Jeremy Gigliotti. As the line drive was sinking deep in the right-center field gap, Gaedele made a sliding catch to rob Dust Devils first baseman Blake McDade of a two-run double. Gigliotti then made a solid job covering first base on a ball hit to first baseman Dan Killian to end the inning without giving up a run.

“That was a turning point early in the game to keep the game close,” Murphy said. “Unbelievable catch. That’s two runs. And then offensively, he drove in some runs … he’s coming into his own and we’re happy about it. He’s a great young man.”

The Emeralds first took the lead in the fourth inning when Colantonio and Killian were driven in by Gaedele and Peterson, respectively, making the game 4-3.

The Dust Devils tied the game up in the top of the sixth inning when reliever Luis De La Cruz walked three batters in the inning after Tri-City shortstop Taylor Featherston led off the inning with a single to center field.

The Emeralds came back to blow the game open in the bottom of the inning, putting up three runs as Colantonio was driven in again by Gaedele on a groundout. Third baseman Travis Whitmore then drilled a double into left-center field to score left fielder Jose Dore, and Whitmore was driven in on a single to right field by designated hitter Donavan Tate.

The Emeralds added two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning when Tate hit a double down the right field line to score Whitmore and Peterson, putting the game at its final score.

Eugene and Tri-City match up Wednesday at 7 p.m. at PK Park for game two of their five-game series. The winner of the series will have the best record in the entirety of the Northwest League.

Horton adds two coaches to staff

George Horton reconfigured his coaching staff for the Oregon baseball team, including his own assignment, with Monday’s announcement of the hiring of two new assistant coaches. Horton moved himself into the role of coaching his pitchers, which had been the primary duty of assistant coach Andrew Checketts for the first …


UO upgrades Hayward-area turf fields, benefiting students & athletic broadcasts

While the big track meets are over for the summer at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, the field is far from quiet as new construction has started up, bringing…