Eugene Emeralds Baseball

Emeralds’ Playoff Hopes Take Hit With 3-2 Loss To Everett

By: Joe Krasnowski

EUGENE, OR – It’s a colossal climb the Emeralds are on, trouble lurking at every step.

One bad pitch and Everett makes solid contact, creating a scoring chance. One missed mistake, and the AquaSox avoid trouble unscathed.

One misplay and they get a second, and sometimes, a third chance to tack on runs. 

One wasted opportunity, and the margins get tighter, the chances get smaller, the ending gets closer.

One run separating Everett (3) and Eugene (2), the difference minuscule yet insurmountable. 

One more week of nights like Thursday and the Ems’ first-half playoff chances will be done.

As Axel Sanchez gloved a Justin Wishikowski lineout — the snare spoiling another chance on a night where Eugene went just 2-10 with runners in scoring position. A cold realization started to fill the Eugene night in the seventh inning. The Ems trailed by just one, but the deficit felt far more significant than that — reality had set in for the fans, one that probably should’ve been realized sooner.

The fact that the Emeralds were a few swings and a few inches away from beating the AquaSox Thursday night was no consolation. In fact, it probably makes it worse.

The climb they face — Spokane entered winners of three-in-a-row making each game that much more important — has been too steep, too slippery and, again, too hard for this team to conquer.

Everett, like it always seems to do, was there to gleefully capitalize on every Emeralds’ mistake, every execution error, every missed throw or hanging curveball. The Aquasox one-run victory, perhaps even more so than their 5-1 win a night before, felt like relatively light work, with the Emeralds seemingly dispatched down three after five.

Spokane won 2-1 over Vancouver, moving three games ahead of the Emeralds in the Northwest division with seven games to play. 

Again, it was a night full of missed opportunities and ‘what ifs’. 

The worst of which came in the sixth, with Rodolfo Nolasco and Zach Morgan both striking out with the bases loaded to end the frame. 

Other issues, avoidable and not, plagued the Emeralds on the night.

Manuel Mercedes had a second-inning misplay where he fielded a comebacker but elected to throw to first instead of home, allowing a second AquaSox run in the second. 

Then, Brock Rodden’s fifth-inning home run hit off the foul pole in the space between the pole and the fence — Eugene’s dugout wasn’t happy, the call stood, and was the difference.

Nolasco and Morgan both struck out on sliders from reliever Stefan Raeth, neither at-bat was particularly competitive. 

Then, Matt Higgins — the go-ahead run went down on strikes to end the game — the closer Jimmy Kingsbury’s scream echoing throughout a morose PK Park. 

As the ninth-inning cold reality of the odds shrinking in the Ems’ postseason favor — the Ems have seven more games to play including four against Spokane which has eight to go — began to set in on the team. Eliezer Zambrano looked up and down his bench looking for a replacement or an answer. Again, there was nothing to be found, a climb so dizzying and so treacherous, the ending is all but assured.  

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. • • •