Kelli’s Big Day Headlines Walk-Off Win For Los Monarcas

EUGENE, OR – Los Monarcas de Eugene (6-4) bounced back from a Saturday night streak-snapping defeat to earn a 4-3, walk-off win over the Tri-City Dust Devils (4-6) on Sunday evening at PK Park.

As with all Sunday home games throughout the 2019, the Ems transformed into Los Monarcas as part of MiLB’s Copa de la Diversion. In addition, the team sported specially-designed Monarcas jerseys to honor Our Children’s Trust, a local nonprofit that seeks to elevate the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations. The one-of-a-kind, game-worn jerseys were sold via silent auction during the game with proceeds benefitting Our Children’s Trust.

Prior to the game, Kelsey Juliana, a Eugene native and one of the lead plaintiffs of the nationally-covered case Juliana v. United States, addressed the PK Park faithful on behalf of Our Children’s Trust.

Panamanian left-hander Didier Vargas took the mound for Lance Rymel’s Monarcas making his second start of the season and his first at PK Park. The young southpaw worked himself in and out of brief moments of trouble in the game’s first two innings, but he was burned for the first run of the game in the third inning.

After retiring the inning’s first two batters in order, back-to-back walks from Vargas put Dust Devil runners on first and second, and Nick Gatewood promptly followed with an RBI single to center field scoring Matthew Acosta from second to give the visitors the game’s first lead for the second consecutive night.

Los Monarcas responded quickly to level the score in the bottom half of the inning. With Garcia and Cuevas on first and second base, respectively, following a pair of walks to start the inning, Fernando Kelli attempted to move the pair of runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt, but a fielding error by pitcher Omar Cruz allowed both runners to advance while Kelli found himself safe at first base.

With the bases loaded and Luis Vazquez at the plate, Cruz compounded his earlier error by plunking Vazquez on the backside to force home a Monarcas run and tie the game at 1-1.

However, Cruz would just as quickly get himself out of the jam as he struck out the next three Monarcas batters to limit the damage to just one run.
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Two innings later, the Dust Devils put themselves back in front. A leadoff walk and an infield single to start the fifth inning put runners on first and second with nobody out, and Jason Pineda followed with a double down the left field line to score both runners and put TC ahead, 3-1.

Los Monarcas once again quickly responded in the bottom half of the frame, this time thanks to Fernando Kelli. With Yovanny Cuevas on first base after a leadoff walk, Kelli smacked the first pitch he saw up and over the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3 with his first home run of the season. The homer was Kelli’s seventh round-tripper of his career and his fourth in 86 overall games with the Ems.

Both pitching staffs hunkered down over the next three innings with neither side able to advance a runner past second base, but Los Monarcas finally found the breakthrough they needed in the bottom of the ninth.

Fernando Kelli got the Monarcas momentum rolling with a one-out, infield single that saw him slide into the first base bag, barely beating the throw from Dust Devils shortstop Reinaldo Ilarraza. Two batters later, after a Luis Vazquez walk and a Yonathan Perlaza groundout, Kelli found himself ninety feet from scoring the game’s winning run with cleanup hitter Caleb Knight at the plate.

Knight, who provided a go-ahead home run just two nights prior, found himself as a mere spectator to the show this time. A wild pitch from TC reliever Deacon Medders bounced past catcher Alison Quintero allowing Kelli to easily score from third to cap a wild walk-off win for Los Monarcas.

Ruben Reyes, a former Emeralds outfielder that had been converted to pitcher during the past offseason, picked up the win with an inning of work allowing no hits while striking out a pair of TC batters. Kelli finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base.