Eugene Emeralds Baseball

Eugene Emeralds Drop Another Game With 1st Place Up For Grabs

Eugene suffered seventh loss in their last nine contests

HILLSBORO – The Eugene Emeralds (59-47) missed out on another chance to take sole possession of first place on Thursday night and in doing so fell out of the top two spots in the High-A West for the first time since late May as the Ems fell to the Hillsboro Hops (47-57) by a final of 6-5 at Ron Tonkin Field.

The first inning ended scoreless for both sides, but it wasn’t without a major moment.

Eugene starting pitcher Ryan Murphy, the Minor League strikeout leader, left the game before he even fired an official pitch as the right-hander appeared to show discomfort in his lower back during warm-ups before being removed just moments before Hillsboro leadoff man Jorge Barrosa dug in at the plate.

Thrust into what was ‘unofficially’ a surprise start, Emeralds right-hander John Russell took the mound for the Ems and quickly looked as if he was ready for the moment by retiring the Hops in order while netting an inning-ending strikeout.

However, it was the Hops offense that struck first two innings later, and they did so thanks to a two-out rally that started with a miscue from the Emeralds defensively.

After Russell induced back-to-back groundouts on just five total pitches to start the inning, Hillsboro’s Leodany Perez chopped what appeared to be a room-service groundball to Eugene shortstop Marco Luciano. Nevertheless, Eugene third baseman Sean Roby came over and cut off Luciano aiming to make the play himself, but the grounder glanced off the glove of Roby and allowed Perez to reach and bring the top of the order up once more with two outs and the speedy Perez on first.

Barrosa followed in the next at-bat by working a walk on a full count, and after both Perez and Barrosa successfully executed a double-steal that put runners at second and third, both were brought home on a sharp single by Ronny Simon that put the Hops up, 2-0, after three.

It stayed a 2-0 game until the fifth when five Emeralds singles and a walk together turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead for Eugene.

Robert Emery got the hit parade started by singling sharply to left field, and Kwan Adkins followed in the next at-bat by sneaking a single through the middle on a 3-0 count, a soft liner past Hops shortstop Blaze Alexander that allowed Emery to advance to third while Adkins moved up to second on what was an errant throw to third.

Ismael Munguia followed in the next at-bat and wasted no time, offering at the first pitch and singling up the middle to score both runners and tie the game at 2-2.

Brett Auerbach, who entered the day with just two hits in his prior twenty-six at-bats, followed with his third single of the day to put runners at second and third, and then Armani Smith patiently worked his second walk of the day to load the bases for Sean Roby.

Roby partially made amends for his earlier mistake by looping an 0-2 pitch to left that scored both Munguia and Auerbach to see the Emeralds take their first lead of the game, 4-2.

Eugene’s lead was erased one inning later, and it came thanks in-part to more miscues and mental lapses.

After Jorge Barrosa led off the inning by popping out softly to Roby at third, Ronny Simon sent a soft grounder back to Emeralds reliever Jasier Herrera who fielded the ball cleanly, but an errant throw that glanced off the outstretched glove of Ems first baseman Robert Emery allowed the speedy Simon to reach on what was ruled a throwing error by Herrera.

The big Emeralds right-hander then issued a walk to Blaze Alexander in the next at-bat, and Tristin English followed by lining a double to center field on a knuckling liner that was misplayed by Munguia and eventually trickled all the way to the wall to allow Simon to score while Alexander stood at third representing the tying run.

Alexander would score that tying run on the very next pitch as AJ Vukovich grounded out softly to Carter Aldrete at second whose only play was to first as the Hops and Ems ended the sixth tied at 4-4.

One inning later, Hillsboro retook the lead behind another two-run outburst. Nick Dalesandro led off the inning with an infield single to Luciano at short, and Axel Andueza followed with a first-pitch single to put runners at first and second with no outs. That soon became runners at second and third with no outs as the Hops executed yet another double steal with no throw, and Leodany Perez, batting just over .200 on the season, brought both baserunners home after failing on back-to-back bunt attempts as he singled softly to center field to put the Hops back in front, 6-4.

It stayed 6-4 until the eighth when Jairo Pomares, one of the lone bright spots so far this series from the Emeralds offense, led off the inning by belting his third homer through three games in Hillsboro this week, a no-doubter of the bat that travelled an estimated 439 feet to cut Eugene’s deficit down to one.

Marco Luciano followed by drawing a four-pitch walk to put the tying run on second, and Carter Aldrete then got ahead 2-0 in the next at-bat as Hillsboro reliever Denson Hull struggled to find the zone.

The threat was very quickly put down, though, as Aldrete then popped out and Robert Emery followed by lining out softly to second base while Luciano was then doubled off on the first base bag to quickly take the steam out of the Emeralds comeback.

In the ninth, the Ems went quietly as Kwan Adkins and Ismael Munguia were both retired on the first pitch of their respective at-bats while Auerbach grounded out to third to end the game.

The loss on Thursday marked Eugene’s seventh loss in their past nine contests. Adding a heavy dose of salt in the Emeralds wound was the fact that not only did first place Everett lose again, thereby meaning that Eugene again missed out on retaking sole possession of first place, but Spokane winning again on Thursday night meant that the Emeralds fell out of the top two places in the High-A West for the first time since late May.

Only the top two teams in the High-A West at the end of the season make the postseason, a best-of-five series to decide the High-A West champion.

The Eugene Emeralds continue their quest for first place amid the six-game road series against the Hillsboro Hops on Friday night at 7:05 p.m.


  • Winning Pitcher: Gerald Ogando (1-0, 1.74 ERA): 2.0 IP | 1 H | 0 R | 0 BB | 0 K
  • Losing Pitcher: Jasier Herrera (1-2, 4.07 ERA): 3.0 IP | 4 H | 4 R | 2 ER | 1 BB | 3 K
  • Save: Mailon Arroyo (4)
  • HR(s): Eugene: Pomares (4) | Hillsboro: N/A

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  • John Russell – RHP: Lost in the chaos and frustration of Thursday night’s loss was a truly stellar outing from the former UConn Husky. Thrust into a tough situation, Russell fired a career-high 5.0 innings of work, far exceeding his previous career-high of 3.1 innings set way back in 2017. Russell allowed just four hits, two earned runs and one walk with five strikeouts.
  • Brett Auerbach – C: It had been a tough last two weeks for Eugene’s do-it-all utility man, but Auerbach’s perseverance paid off on Thursday as he finished 3-for-5 at the plate with a run scored.