#MiLB: Six-Run Eighth Powers Ems To Home Opener Win

Ems offense exploded late to earn an 8-2 victory

EUGENE, OR – There really isn’t anything quite like home cooking, is there? MAYBE a beer batter strikeout, but that’s about it.

Having not played in front of the PK Park faithful since way back in September of 2019, the Eugene Emeralds (6-3) took the field in front of their home crowd for the first time in the 2021 season on Thursday night, notching an 8-2 win over the Hillsboro Hops (4-5) to kick off a four-game homestand.

Despite a limited crowd of only 600 fans, there was no lack of intensity at PK Park on Thursday evening as fans lined up well before gates opened an hour before first pitch to see their Emeralds play for the first time in nearly twenty months, and the product on the field did not disappoint.

Playing in the organization’s first home game as a member of the High-A West and since singing a ten-year affiliate agreement with the San Francisco Giants, the Emeralds sent left-hander Seth Corry – the fifth ranked prospect in the Giants farm system per MLB.com – to the mound to make his second start of the season.

Despite surrendering the game’s first run on a solo shot in the top of the second, Corry showcased what has made him such a sought-after prospect on the mound, firing 4.0 innings with eight strikeouts while surrendering three hits, three walks and just the one (earned) run.

Corry struck out the side in the fourth to cap an outing that saw him strikeout five of the final six Hops batters his faced, leaning on pinpoint control and a devastating curveball.

After Corry departed, the Emeralds offense got to work in the fifth as a Franklin Labour RBI single brought home Tyler Fitzgerald to tie the game at 1-1.

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One inning later, Fitzgerald went from run-scorer to run-deliverer when he doubled to deep left field to score reigning High-A West Player of the Week Diego Rincones and put the Ems in front for the first time in the ballgame, 2-1.

Hillsboro offense was held in check after Corry departed thanks to 3.0 stellar innings from Travis Perry, but a bloop single to right field off the bat of early candidate for High-A West Name of the Year, Axel Andueza, in the eighth inning off Solomon Bates saw the Hops tie the game at 2-2 heading to the home half of the frame.

In the home half, the Hops graciously gift wrapped a pair of runs for the Emeralds in the form of a wild pitch that scored Diego Rincones followed by a fielding error in left from Leodany Perez that scored Simon Whiteman to put the Ems back in front, 4-2.

Later in the inning, former 15th overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft, Will Wilson, put the game out of reach with one swing of the bat, mashing a grand slam to left field – his second homer of the season – to remove virtually any doubt that the Ems would win in their 2021 home opener.

Just for good measure, RJ Dabovich poured salt in a wound that was still fresh from the six-run eighth by coming in to strike out the side in the ninth and seal an 8-2 win for the home squad at PK Park.

The Ems and Hops face off again tonight in the second game of a four-game series at PK Park.