Free passes do not help win ball games. The Eugene Emeralds almost found that out the hard way when they sent eight batters to first on walks. Late heroics in front of 3,512 helped the Ems come back from a two run deficit, but not all the way back as they fell 7-4 in 10 innings.
Things started out well for the Ems (7-11) when, in the bottom of the first, Fernando Kelli singled to lead off the inning. After Luis Diaz struck out, Nelson Velazquez worked a 2-2 count and launched a ball over the left field fence for his third homer of the year and made it a 2-0 game.
That lead would be short lived thanks to five straight walks to start the top of the second inning. Jose Albertos skirted around danger in the first getting out a two-out jam with runners on second and third, but could not find the strike zone after.
Albertos threw 21 straight balls at one point, including three wild pitches, which allowed the AquaSox (10-8) to tie and then untie the game. He left with runners on first and third when Yan De La Cruz entered. De La Cruz got Bobby Honeyman to ground out, scoring Charlie McConnell and making it a 4-2 game.
De La Cruz pitched four innings, giving up three hits and a walk but no runs, giving the Ems a chance to stay in the game. Same can be said for Jake Steffens, who came in for De La Cruz and pitched for three innings, giving up one hit, a walk, and getting a pair of strikeouts.
It would stay 4-2 until the bottom of the sixth when Jonathan Sierra walked with two outs. Christopher Morel singled to move Sierra to third before Tyler Durna collected his first RBI of the season, moving the Ems one run closer and making it a 4-3 game.
Eugene would get Albertos off the hook for the loss in the bottom of the ninth when Kelli singled to lead off the inning. Kelli attempted to steal second but was thrown out before Diaz stroked a single of his own.
Velazquez provided the offense once again, this time a double down the left field line to score Diaz and tie the game 4-4.
Albertos finished with one plus innings on 38 pitches. He only threw eight of those pitches for strikes while giving up one hit, four runs, and six walks.
The magic ended there when the AquaSox took the lead in the top of the tenth, a lead they did not relinquish. Casey Ryan (0-2) took the loss when three runs came around to score in the frame.
The rubber match of the series is tomorrow for the Independence Day Celebration at PK Park. Ryan Williams takes the hill for the Ems while Jheyson Caraballo will go for the AquaSox.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.