Eugene, OR - A wild pitch scored the first run of the game and the game would follow suit with a wild, back-and-forth affair that the Ems eventually pulled out and walked-off a 4-3 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in front of 4,192 at PK Park on Thursday.
After giving up the lead in the top of the ninth inning for the second time this homestand, the Ems (34-33, 13-16) did not make their fans wait long to end the game.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jose Gonzalez smacked a ball to deep left center and neither Salem-Keizer (28-39, 12-17) outfield could stop it from rolling to the wall or Gonzalez from getting to third with a triple.
Chris Singleton then lifted a ball to left fielder Bryce Johnson deep enough for Gonzalez to tag and score, ending the game and pulling the Ems another game ahead of Boise in the overall standings.
Luis Aquino (2-3, 1.53 ERA), who blew his second save of the year after Michael Sexton doubled to tie the game in the ninth, got the win and his 46th strikeout of the year in just 29.1 innings.
Another shaky first inning for the Emeralds saw a one-out walk to Johnson. Johnson stole second before another walk to Logan Baldwin put runners on first and second. A double steal put runners on second and third before Ems starter Jesus Camargo struck out Ryan Kirby for the second out.
Camargo settled after that and pitched well enough to get the win, going six innnigs and giving up just two runs on four hits and two walks with a career-high nine strikeouts.
The Ems tied and took the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth after Rafael Narea singled and later scored on a Michael Cruz double to make it a 1-1 game. Cruz would trade places with Miguel Amaya, who doubled and made it a 2-1 game.
Salem-Keizer struck back in the sixth when, with Johnson and Baldwin at second and first and no one out, Amaya fired the ball to second on a double steal attempt. Johnson saw the opportunity and never stopped running, crossing the plate and tying the game at 2-2.
Eugene briefly held the lead in the eighth after Jhonny Bethencourt stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A second wild pitch allowed Bethencourt to score and give the Ems a short-lived lead.
Ricky Tyler Thomas relieved Camargo in the seventh and two innings on one-hit ball, striking out a pair and was in line for the win going into the ninth.
The finale between these two teams comes on Friday for a championship puzzle giveaway for the first 1,000 fans through the Homeplate gate. Game starts at 7:05 PM with gates opening at 6 PM. Tickets can be purchased at emeraldsbaseball.com or by calling the box office at 541-342-5367.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.