Eugene Emeralds Baseball

A familiar story this homestand: Dust Devils defeat the Emeralds

By: Joe Krasnowski

EUGENE, OR – For most of this season, the Emeralds have looked close to invincible.

In the past six meetings with the Tri-City Dust Devils, however, they have appeared anything but.

For the first time this season, the Emeralds (19-13) dropped a series, falling to the Dust Devils 4-3 in a Sunday game at a sunny PK Park.

The reasons for this defeat weren’t difficult to diagnose. Daniel Blair entered in relief, allowing three earned runs in the sixth, while the Tri-City arms cruisedthrough the Ems offense. Kevin Bruggeman’s two-run single proved lethal in Blair’s disastrous inning. 

Yet for an Emeralds team that — fair or not — will be judged almost entirely on being able to punch a spot in the playoffs the Dust Devils (14-18) have been the one opponent this season to neutralize them. They not only won five of the six meetings between the clubs this series but have done so with the kind of pitching-dominant blueprint that has troubled Eugene at home all season long. 

Hayden Wynja performed as an early “stopper” of sorts for the Ems, dazzling over five scoreless innings to lower his now 3.60 ERA. He worked around a bases-loaded no-out situation in the second, striking out one and inducing a pair of weak fly-outs to evade the threat. 

But yet again, it was the Eugene bullpen that fumbled another strong performance from an Emeralds starter. This time it was just Wynja’s turn for a strong outing to be squashed by the doors in right swinging open. 

After allowing nine runs over five innings yesterday, head coach Jeremiah Knackstedt turned to his relievers and effectively waved the white flag.

Blair entered, allowing four hits in the third with Bruggeman’s go-ahead single being the biggest blow. His second inning of work wasn’t much better, this time a solo shot from Ben Gobbel did the damage to make it 4-1.

Ultimately Tanner O’Tremba’s two-run homer in the seventh was answered with a whole lot of nothing. The team went three for nine with runners in scoring position, stranding seven runners. 

The Emeralds weren’t in dire need of a “stopper” like Choate, not after entering seven games over .500. 

They weren’t in need of a one-man show either, with the squad’s leadoff man Diego Velasquez’s solo shot being coupled with OTremba’s two-run blast in the seventh to cut the deficit to one.  

Sunday’s game couldn’t be viewed as a must-win either, not with the team still a game ahead of second-place Spokane. 

But still, after the disappointment of the beginning of this homestand, a slog that entailed the Ems losing four of five against bottom-dweller Tri-City something had to change.

Nothing really did, the Emeralds went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Eugene’s seventh-inning comeback bid continued to look promising as Roman Phansalkar put runners on the corners with two down.

Then it all went up in the smoke created by a team that, unlike the Emeralds, fires harder when the stakes get hotter. Jake Smith entered in relief, retiring Matt Higgins on a lazy fly-ball to center. 

The only reprieve for these Ems? Vancouver split its series with Everett.

Short hops

Hitting coach Jared Walker took two swings in batting practice. They both cleared the fence, one a ground-rule-double, the other a bomb off the player development complex in right. 

Fundamentals coach Eliezer Zambrano — who had just six home runs in 448 career at-bats — wasn’t as successful, looping a few balls to center. 

A bald eagle flew over the field in Andrew Kachel’s fourth-inning at-bat. Which mixed with a baseball game at a sunny PK Park might just be the most patriotic thing ever.  

The Eugene Emeralds are the High-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. The Eugene Emeralds are dedicated to providing the best in family entertainment and creating a fun, safe environment for everyone to enjoy watching a baseball game. For more information, please visit our website at or call the Emeralds front office at 541-342-5367. • • •