Playing with a retooled roster and limited available players, the Eugene Emeralds (9-13) suffered a 10-4 loss to the Everett AquaSox (11-11) in front of 4,055 fans at PK Park on Friday night.
The Emeralds hit the diamond fielding four new players, all freshly arrived over the previous 24 hours as part of a major influx of Chicago Cubs talent stemming from the 2019 MLB Draft. Nelson Maldonado (21st Round - Florida), Grayson Byrd (24th Round - Clemson), Zac Taylor (25th Round - Illinois), and Jacob Olson (26th Round - South Carolina) each suited up in the field for the Ems on the evening.
For the second straight night, the visitors struck first and took little time to do so. Everett quickly loaded the bases in the top of the first after a leadoff single by Utah Jones, a hit batter, and a walk. With the bases juiced and no outs, Emeralds starting pitcher Didier Vargas spiked a ball in the dirt that allowed Jones to score from first and give the Frogs a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Robert Perez laced a double to left field to score Austin Shenton and Trent Tingelstad, putting the AquaSox ahead, 3-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Emeralds wasted no time of their own cutting into the AquaSox lead. With Fernando Kelli on third base after belting a leadoff triple, his third of the season, new addition Nelson Maldonado stroked a sacrifice fly to right field to score Kelli and give Maldonado his first RBI as an Emerald. Maldonado would've had an extra base hit of his own, too, if not for a diving catch by Everett right fielder Cash Gladfelter.
However, the AquaSox offense would immediately respond to restore their three-run lead, and then some. Cade Marlowe led off the inning with a single to left field and was soon advanced to second on a passed ball by Emeralds catcher Jonathan Soto. DeAires Moses followed with a single to advance Marlowe to third, and another wild pitch from Vargas allowed Marlowe to score, putting the AquaSox back up by three. After Utah Jones drew a walk, Austin Shenton smacked a double to center field that allowed Jones to score from first and stretch the Everett lead to 5-1.
The Frogs added two more in the fifth and three in the sixth to blow the game open. An RBI single from Marlowe brought home two runs in the fifth, and an RBI single from Tingelstad, a bases loaded walk to Robert Perez, and a Cash Gladfelter sac fly left the AquaSox leading, 10-1, when the dust settled after six innings.
Eugene's offense was heard from once more, though. Shortstop Luis Vazquez blasted a two-run homer to left in the eighth inning, his first home run of the season and fifth of his career thus far. Jacob Olson followed Vazquez by almost hitting a homer of his own, but the former South Carolina Gamecock couldn't sneak it over the deepest part of the part in straight away center field and was forced to settle for a triple after ricocheting off the outfield fence. Two batters later, Fernando Kelli doubled to bring home Olson, Kelli's second extra base hit of the game.
Olson's eighth inning run was the last that either offense was heard from, though, as Everett cruised through the ninth to secure the 10-4 win.
Emeralds pitcher John Pomeroy became the fifth player to make his Emeralds debut when he came on in the sixth, striking out two batters while allowing just one hit and one walk in 1.2 scoreless innings of work. Meanwhile, many of his fellow newcomers also showed promise despite how things finished on the scoreboard. Nelson Maldonado finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, Zac Taylor went 1-for-5, Grayson Byrd went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Jacob Olson went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
The Emeralds now look to salvage the series against the visiting AquaSox before hosting the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for a two-game series. Eugene and Everett face off again on Saturday night at 7:05pm at PK Park, with gates opening at 6:00pm. Saturday night features an Eloy Jimenez bobblehead giveaway, presented by Pepsi for with members of KVAL News helping pass out bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans that enter through the home plate gate of PK Park.
You can find the full promotional schedule for the 2019 Eugene Emeralds season by visiting www.EmeraldsBaseball.com.
Tickets to Emeralds home games are on sale now at www.EmeraldsBaseball.com or by calling (541) 342-5367.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.