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Munguia’s Moonshot Blasts Ems To Eighth Straight Win

Munguia is clutch once more and Schimpf shuts the door late to earn Eugene’s eighth straight win
(Gary Breedlove)
June 24, 2021

The winning streak hit eight on Wednesday night in the Emerald Valley thanks to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory for the Eugene Emeralds (28-15) over the Vancouver Canadians (24-20) at PK Park. THE DETAILS:

  • Winning Pitcher: Nicholas Avila (3-5, 7.76 ERA): 4.0 IP | 8 H | 5 H |

The winning streak hit eight on Wednesday night in the Emerald Valley thanks to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory for the Eugene Emeralds (28-15) over the Vancouver Canadians (24-20) at PK Park.

THE DETAILS:

  • Winning Pitcher: Nicholas Avila (3-5, 7.76 ERA): 4.0 IP | 8 H | 5 H | 4 ER | 2 BB | 4 K
  • Losing Pitcher: Sean Mellen (0-1, 21.00 ERA): 0.2 IP | 2 H | 4 R | 4 ER | 2 BB | 1 K
  • Save: Tyler Schimpf (3): 1.2 IP | 0 H | 0 R | 0 BB | 3 K
  • HR(s): Eugene: Tyler Fitzgerald (5), Ismael Munguia (4) | Vancouver: N/A

HOW IT HAPPENED: Right-hander Taylor Rashi got the start for the Emeralds on Thursday, working as an ‘opener’ and making his first-ever pro start after twenty-one prior appearances out of the bullpen in his first two professional seasons.

Rashi met and exceeded all expectations, retiring nine of ten Canadians batters faced while allowing no runs and striking out three.

The former UC Irvine Anteater gave way to former Long Beach State Dirtbag Nick Avila to start the fourth, but Avila was rudely greeted by the C’s Cameron Eden who singled with one out before then stealing both second and third base to put the game’s potential first run just ninety feet away. That potential turned into reality two batters later when Sebastian Espino laced a two-out double to right that scored Eden and put the Canadians up first, 1-0.

Eugene wasted no time striking back, though, as Ismael Munguia lead off the bottom half of the inning with a double on a full count, and he was brought home to tie the game just one batter later when Will Wilson singled up the middle and through the five-hole of base umpire Ray Patchen to score Munguia and level the score at 1-1 through four innings.

The Ems took their first lead of the game one inning later when Tyler Fitzgerald belted a laser of a solo homer to left that exited PK Park in a hurry for his fifth four-bagger of the season, giving Eugene a 2-1 advantage after five.

In the sixth, it was Vancouver’s turn to quickly respond but it wasn’t without some help from the Emeralds defense. After a Rafael Lantigua strikeout to start the inning, Phil Clark skied a pop up to shallow center field, but despite a trio of Emeralds converging with plenty of time to make the play, none were in fact able to do so as the ball glanced off both Fitzgerald and Munguia before softly falling to the turf for what was ruled as a generous single.

Eden followed with a single to left that put runners at second and third, and then Spencer Horwitz rolled what seemed to be a tailor-made double play ball to Wilson at second, but the usually sure-handed middle infielder booted the grounder to leave the bases full of C’s with still just one out.

Espino made the Emeralds pay in the ensuing at-bat with a sharp single to left that barely glanced off the glove of Fitzgerald and allowed two Canadians runs to score to put the visitors back in front, 3-2.

In the seventh, following back-to-back singles from Lantigua and Luis De Los Santos that started the inning, Ryan Gold struck out and then Lantigua rolled a slow grounder to Fitzgerald at short. Fitzgerald fielded it cleanly and fired to second looking to turn an inning-ending double play, but despite a clean turn-and-throw from Wilson at second, the throw to first was just a hair too late to catch Lantigua, thereby putting runners on the corners and keeping the inning alive for the C’s. That proved pivotal moments later when, after Lantigua stole second to put runners at second and third, Andres Guerra grounded a single to center that scored both Canadians base runners and put Vancouver ahead by three, 5-2.

However, the ping-pong match continued with Eugene responding in a big way in the bottom half of the seventh.

Left-hander Sean Mellen entered to start the seventh in place of Canadians starting pitcher CJ Van Eyk, but Mellen worked himself into a jam right from the jump by surrendering a leadoff single to Armani Smith that was followed by a walk drawn by Patrick Bailey on a full count. That brought up on-base savant Logan Wyatt who was still in search of reaching first for the first time in the game, and reach first he did indeed, singling on a chopper to right that – coupled with a fielding error by C’s right fielder Rafael Lantigua – allowed both runners to score while Wyatt advanced to second in what had become a one-run ballgame.

Three batters later, with two runners on and two outs on the board and a new pitcher on the mound in the form of Justin Maese, Ismael Munguia mashed another moon shot to right field, a towering three-run homer that once again rocketed into the vicinity of the Emeralds bullpen to send PK Park into a frenzy and send the Emeralds back into the lead, 7-5.

John Timmins began the eighth on the mound but struggled from the start and eventually found himself with the bases loaded and just one out. Out went Timmins and in came Tyler Schimpf looking to put out the fire, and Schimpf did exactly that, ironically using a heavy amount of gas to do so. The former Texas Longhorn struck out both batters he faced in the eight, leaning on mid-to-upper-90s action on his fastball to blow away Ronny Brito and Lantigua to send the game to the ninth.

In that ninth inning, Schimpf shut the door the rest of the way by retiring all three batters faced to seal a topsy-turvy 7-5 win at PK Park, the eighth straight win for the Emeralds.

PEAK PERFORMERS:

  • Ismael Munguia – CF: The Nicaraguan’s knack for coming up clutch in big moments has been apparent all season long, as was the case again on Wednesday. Munguia finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, all coming on his go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh.
  • Taylor Rashi – RHP: Rashi ruled on Wednesday night, firing 3.0 scoreless innings with three strikeouts while allowing just one hit, no walks, and no runs.
  • Tyler Schimpf – RHP: The Emeralds have already seen two closers promoted to Double-A Richmond this season (Jose Marte, RJ Dabovich), but that hasn’t stopped the dominance of the backend of the bullpen for Eugene. After Chris Wright notched his fourth save last night, Schimpf picked up his third save tonight by retiring all five C’s batters he faced while striking out three of them.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Eugene Emeralds and Vancouver Canadians face off again on Thursday night. First pitch between the Ems and C’s is scheduled for 7:05pm PST at PK Park.

You can listen live to all the action with the voice of the Emeralds Matt Dompe on the call via 95.3FM The Score, via MiLB.com or on the MiLB app, and you can also watch all the action live on MiLB.tv.

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