Extra innings brings something out in the Eugene Emeralds. After scoring five runs in extras against the Spokane Indians last series, the Ems broke out in a big way against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, scoring a pair in the tenth to tie it and another pair in the eleventh to win it 6-5 in front of 4,510 at PK Park.
In the new MiLB rule, each team will start the inning with the batter who made the last out of the previous inning on second. The Volcanoes (15-16) took that to their advantage in both of the extra innings, when Salem-Keizer scored a pair in the tenth and a run in the eleventh to go ahead 5-4. But the Ems (11-20) fought back, using a Jonathan Soto -pinch-hit, lead-off double just past the diving first baseman to scored Luis Diaz, who started the inning at second, tying the game at 5-5.
A failed bunt attempt by Fernando Kelli brought Ems newcomer Clayton Daniel to the plate with one out. Daniel, a 31st round selection from Jacksonville State University, wasted no time ending the game, striking a single to center field on the first pitch he saw, scoring Soto and starting the celebration.
It looked like the Ems would waste another good start by Brailyn Marquez, after he went 4.2 innings and gave up just four hits, two runs, only one earned, with a walk and five strikeouts. It was the fifth straight start in which Marquez has only given up one earned run.
The Volcanoes scored first in the first when Marquez walked Jose Layer to start the game. A single by Kyle McPherson moved Layer to third before Diego Rincones grounded into a double-play, one of three the Ems turned on the night. The play scored Layer and gave the Volcanoes a 1-0 lead.
Eugene struck back in the third when Kelli walked and stole second with one out. Daniel walked before Luis Vazquez moved the runners to second and third on a bunt ground out. Kelli came around to score when catcher Ricardo Genoves threw the ball away into left field, tying the game at 1-1.
Salem-Keizer countered immediately in the top of the fourth when Rincones crushed a 0-2 pitch over the left-center field wall for his fourth homer of the year, making it a 2-1 game.
It stayed that way until the Ems finally scored again in the sixth, when Jonathan Sierra doubled to lead off the inning. After a ground out and a strikeout, it was Brennon Kaleiwahea that came through, singling on a line drive to center and scoring Sierra.
The Ems bullpen was almost perfect for the rest of regulation, with Sean Barry (1.1 innings, two strikeouts), Cam Sanders (one inning, a walk, two strikeouts), and Luis Aquno (two innings, two hits, three strikeouts) all capping the Volcanoes offense.
The Ems had a chance to end it in the ninth, getting Kaleiwahea on first after he was hit by a pitch and Kelli walking with no one out. But it was not to be, as the Volcanoes Jesus Tona settled and got the next three outs easily.
Aquino came out to pitch the tenth but found himself in trouble, giving up a lead-off single to Genoves, moving the starting runner at second Robinson Medrano to third. Mikey Edie grounded into a double-play, scoring Medrano and making it a 3-2 game.
Then Dalton Combs hit his first homer of the year over the right field wall, giving the Volcanoes a big 4-2 lead. But it did not last for more than four pitches, as the Ems flashed some power of their own.
Nelson Velazquez took the first pitch in the bottom of the tenth he saw from Tona and shot it into the night sky, scoring Tyler Durna, who started at second. It was Velazquez fourth homerun of the year amd sent the game into the eleventh inning.
Game 2 of this 3-game set will be tomorrow when the Ems transform once again to the Monarcas De Eugene. Derek Casey will start for the Ems while the Volcanoes will send out Sean Hjelle. Game starts at 7:05 pm, and tickets can be purchased at emeraldsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.