EVERETT – One of the wildest games of the season ended with the Eugene Emeralds (43-32) completing a comeback to remember, plating five runs in the ninth to stun the Everett AquaSox (49-25) and even the seven-game series at two apiece behind an 11-9 win at Funko Field.
Eugene may have prevailed in the end, but Thursday’s matchup between the top two teams in the High-A West started in about as unideal a fashion as imaginable for the Ems.
The bottom of the first saw Everett bring a total of ten batters to the plate, six of which came in to score, as the potent AquaSox offense raced out to an early 6-0 lead after only six outs had been recorded in the ballgame.
Despite the big blow in the first frame, the Emeralds offense swung right back in the top of the second by plating five runs of their own to cut their deficit to just one while setting the tone for what would be a wild game in Northwest Washington.
Eugene began chipping into the sizeable AquaSox lead when Carter Aldrete belted his seventh homer of the season – six of which have come in the month of July – by going the opposite way for a two-run blast that pulled the Emeralds within four.
Four batters later, following Tyler Flores being hit by a pitch and Robert Emery singling to right field, Tyler Fitzgerald teed off the opposite way as well for his team-leading twelfth homer of the season, a three-run tater that pulled the Emeralds within one, 6-5, heading to the bottom of the second.
It stayed a one-run game until the fourth when the AquaSox put up another crooked number thanks to a Jake Anchia two-run home run, his second homer of the game, and a Joseph Rosa RBI single that together put the Frogs up by four after four.
Robert Emery trimmed it back to three in the sixth with an RBI single to center that scored Carter Aldrete, but the Emeralds weren’t able to must much thereafter as it remained three-run margin… until the ninth.
In that ninth inning, following a Tyler Fitzgerald leadoff single and a one-out walk drawn by Ricardo Genovés, Franklin Labour stepped to the plate representing the tying run. Labour, who had gone 0-for-4 with four strikeouts leading up to that point, roasted a 3-1 offering to dead center field, a 400-foot blast that with one swing of the bat brought the Emeralds level with the Frogs for the first time since the first inning, tying the game at 9-9.
Everett manager Louis Boyd immediately turned to left-hander Ben Onyshko out of the bullpen with Heath Quinn due up, but Quinn only needed to see one offering from Onyshko to put the Emeralds in front for the first time of the game, blasting Onyshko’s first pitch the opposite way and well over the right field fence for what was the fourth Emeralds homer of the game (from four different Emeralds players, ah-thank-you) to put the Emeralds in the driver’s seat for the first time on Thursday, 10-9.
Eugene’s offense added another run in the ninth for good measure as Robert Emery singled home Brett Auerbach who had worked a walk and then stole second and third before scoring on Emery’s base knock to make it 11-9 heading to the bottom of the ninth.
In that bottom of the ninth, right-hander Taylor Rashi finished off one of the more formidable pitching performances by an Emeralds bullpen arm this season, striking out all three batters faced in the ninth to cap two innings of work that saw him record all six outs via the strikeout and seal an incredible, improbable comeback for the Emeralds.
The Eugene Emeralds and Everett AquaSox face off on Friday at 7:05pm PST at Funko Field in Everett, Washington.
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