#MiLB: Fitzgerald And Phillips Fuel 7-1 Emeralds Win

EUGENE – The Eugene Emeralds (16-9) took an early lead and never looked back on Monday night in Hillsboro, handing the Vancouver Canadians (15-10) a convincing 7-1 defeat at Ron Tonkin Field to open a six-game series.

Eugene took control right from the get-go, plating four runs in the game’s opening frame. The scoring started behind back-to-back doubles from Patrick Bailey and Logan Wyatt, respectively, and then, after a Franklin Labour walk put two runners on, Tyler Fitzgerald belted a three-run bomb down the left field line that was originally ruled foul but was quickly overturned and dubbed a four-bagger for Fitzgerald, his fourth of the season.

The Canadians responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1 after one, but three was as close as the C’s got. Eugene immediately extended their lead in the top of the second thanks to – you guessed it – Tyler Fitzgerald, who tallied his fourth and fifth RBIs through just two innings of play thanks to a two-out, two-RBI single to left that made it 6-1 in favor of the visitors.

The game’s final run came in the fourth inning thanks to Franklin Labour who tacked on the extra point on a sac fly to center that scored Simon Whiteman for the seventh Emeralds run of the day.

Turned out that was far, far more than Emeralds starting pitcher Aaron Phillips needed. The former ninth round pick out of St. Bonaventure was exceptionally solid in his second start since joining the Emeralds, firing six innings without allowing an earned run on Tuesday night.

While his offspeed offerings stole the show through much of his outing, what happened in the fifth inning will undoubtedly be a memorable moment of his for years to come.

After surrendering a double, single, and stolen base that saw runners on second and third with no outs to start the fifth, Canadians leadoff man Tanner Kirwer came up in what was the first real, significant bout of trouble that Phillips had faced.

Kirwer skied a routine fly ball to shallow center field that didn’t seem to offer much worry or suspense in the air, but after Ems center fielder Javeyan Williams made the grab and fired it back to the infield, Logan Wyatt – who had cut the ball off – noticed that the C’s DJ Neal was caught in no man’s land between second and third.

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Wyatt quickly fired to Emeralds shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald who made the grab, placed the tag on Neal, then pirouetted around and fired home in the hopes of catching Ronny Brito who was taking off from third. Fitzgerald’s throw proved just early enough as Ems catcher Patrick Bailey’s swipe tag caught Brito just in time to close out the inning on a miraculous triple play.

That was the exclamation point on an impressive all-around performance by the Emeralds as they remained tied for first in the High-A West with the Everett AquaSox, who also won on Tuesday evening.

The Vancouver Canadians are playing all of their home games during the 2021 season at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro, Oregon due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Ems fans could drive up for the games if they were so inclined.

The Ems and Canadians face off again on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at Ron Tonkin Field.

– Tyler Fitzgerald – SS: The numbers speak for themselves, don’t they? Fitzgerald finished the night 2-for-5 with 5 RBI, highlighted by the three-run tater in the first. The versatile infielder now has homers in back-to-back games after belting a pivotal two-run, eighth inning blast in the Emeralds’ last game on Sunday, a 2-1 win for the Emeralds.
– Aaron Phillips – RHP: See above (RE: numbers speaking for themselves). Phillips bounced back from a tough-luck first start as an Emerald to fire a solid six innings of work, often leaning on a steady diet of offspeed pitches to stymie the C’s lineup over his six innings of work.
– Bryce Tucker – LHP: Tucker picked up where Phillips left off by tossing a scoreless final three innings while picking up a pair of strikeouts. Both of the lone blemishes on his ledger came with two outs – a two-out single and a two-out walk – both of which proved to be of no consequence.
– Patrick Bailey – C: Bailey entered the night with five doubles on the season; he tallied three two-baggers on Tuesday night. The Emeralds backstop collected a game-high three hits – all doubles – while once again finding himself at-or-near the top of the Emeralds lineup.