Eugene Emeralds Baseball

Spokane Forces Game Four Against Eugene Emeralds

Eugene’s offense never hit its stride in a sound defeat

SPOKANE – The Eugene Emeralds (2-1) remain one win away from a High-A West title after Spokane (1-2) forced a Game Four thanks to a 6-1 win in Game Three of the High-A West Championship Series at Avista Stadium.

Playing as the ‘home’ team for the first time in the series, the Emeralds took the diamond on Thursday night with a chance to complete a sweep and earn the team’s third league title in five seasons.

Unfortunately for Eugene, a series-clinching win never quite seemed in the cards from the get-go in Game Three.

Spokane, who had never led at any point in each of the first two games of the series, wasted no time taking an early 1-0 lead after just four turns at the plate in the first inning.

After Jack Blomgren grounded out to short, Ezequiel Tovar snuck a soft double down the right field line on an 0-2 pitch and then advanced to third in the ensuing at back on a Hunter Stovall infield single, also on an 0-2 count.

One batter later, Brenton Doyle sent a soft grounder to Luciano at short who aimed to turn an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but Doyle was just barely able to beat the throw to first while Tovar came into score from third to put the Indians in front first, 1-0.

One inning later, it became 2-0 in favor of Spokane. Daniel Montano worked a one-out walk on a full count, and after advancing to second on a soft groundout back to Kai-Wei Teng, Jack Blomgren singled him home on yet another 0-2 offering that doubled Spokane’s lead.

It remained 2-0 until the fifth when Eugene got a lightning bolt of life on the first pitch to Jairo Pomares. Despite having mustered just one hit through four innings against Spokane starter Mitchell Kilkenny, Eugene’s deficit was cut back to one with one swing when Jairo Pomares launched the first offering from Kilkenny into the stands in right (coincidentally, where the Emeralds front office staff was located), a rocket that exited the bat of Pomares at 114 MPH to pull Eugene within one, 2-1.

That kicked off a spree of three straight singles as Tyler Fitzgerald, Marco Luciano, and Brandon Martorano tallied hits off Kilkenny in consecutive at-bats, yet rather than resulting in an Emeralds run those three hits amounted to an out made via a baserunning miscue.

With Fitzgerald on second and Luciano at first, Martorano – who was playing in his first game back with the Emeralds after catcher Ricardo Genovés was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento – doubled on a soft fly ball to center field, but Tyler Fitzgerald seemed to throw on the brakes late while rounding third after getting the ‘red light’ from Ems manager Dennis Pelfrey in the third base coaches box.

Behind Fitzgerald on the bases, Luciano either did not see the stop sign from Pelfrey or already believed Fitzgerald was headed home anyways, and the Ems shortstop kept charging into third where he eventually found Fitzgerald standing.

Adding to the awkwardness, the throw from Spokane center fielder Niko Decolati went well wide of home plate and was fielded by Spokane catcher Daniel Cope halfway up the first base line, but due to the awkwardness of the baserunning error by the Ems, Cope was able to recover and ultimately tag Fitzgerald out for the first out of the inning.

Despite that, the Emeralds still wound up with runners at second and third with one out, but Franklin Labour was then caught looking in the ensuing at-bat and Ismael Munguia then flew out to right to end the threat and leave the Emeralds wondering what could have been.

That proved to be the only time the Emeralds offense was heard from in the run column of the line score. Spokane restored their two-run advantage in the seventh thanks to an RBI single from Ezequiel Tovar, and the Indians plated three more in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Brenton Doyle blasted a solo homer off the second pitch from Eugene’s Tyler Schimpf to start the eighth, and after singles from Grant Lavigne and Niko Decolati that were then followed by strikeouts from Aaron Schunk and Daniel Montano, Daniel Cope sent a grounder to Tyler Fitzgerald at third, but Fitzgerald’s throw to first was low and got past Sean Roby at first to allow both Lavigne and Decolati to score and put the Indians up by five, 6-1, with six outs to go.

Eugene got a pair of one-out singles in the eighth from Brett Auerbach and Armani Smith, but back-to-back strikeouts from Sean Roby and Jairo Pomares ended the inning and the Ems offense was retired in order in the ninth to cap a disheartening defeat in Game Three.

Game Four of the High-A West Championship Series will be played on Friday at Avista Stadium. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m.

RHP Ryan Murphy is slated to start for the Emeralds against RHP Trent Fennell for Spokane.


  • Winning Pitcher: Mitchell Kilkenny (1-0, 1.29 ERA): 7.0 IP | 7 H | 1 R | 1 ER | 0 BB | 6 K
  • Losing Pitcher: Kai-Wei Teng (0-1, 2.84 ERA): 6.1 IP | 5 H | 2 R | 2 ER | 2 BB | 7 K
  • Save: N/A
  • HR(s): Eugene: Pomares (1) | Spokane: Doyle (1)

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  • Kai-Wei Teng – RHP: Despite taking the loss, Teng was once again very strong on the hill for the Emeralds, firing 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts while allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Thursday marked the ninth time over his last ten outings that Teng had fired at least five innings.
  • Brandon Martorano – C: Thrust into an awkward spot having been asked to catch a potential title-clinching game despite having just rejoined the Emeralds earlier in the day, Martorano finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate while also looking strong defensively, highlighted by an excellent instinctual play in which the former UNC Tar Heel gunned out a runner at third after a pitch in the dirt kicked into the air and Martorano barehanded it with his throwing hand before firing to third to catch a Spokane baserunner.
  • Jairo Pomares – DH: Pomares accounted for Eugene’s only run production of the night, and he did so in a powerful way, muscling his seventh homer as an Emerald while going 2-for-4 at the dish.