The Eugene Emeralds (36-26) bullpen entered Thursday night with a collective record of 23-1 on the season, by far the best winning percentage in all if Minor League Baseball. When Thursday night ended, that record stood at 23-2, and it came in the most improbable of fashions as the Spokane
The Eugene Emeralds (36-26) bullpen entered Thursday night with a collective record of 23-1 on the season, by far the best winning percentage in all if Minor League Baseball. When Thursday night ended, that record stood at 23-2, and it came in the most improbable of fashions as the Spokane Indians (29-34), erased an eight-run deficit thanks in-part to a ten-run eighth inning to stun the Ems, 14-11, in the third game of a six-game series in Spokane, Washington.
Winning Pitcher: Jake Sommers (1-0, 7.24 ERA): 1.0 IP | 0 H | 0 R | 1 BB | 0 K
Losing Pitcher: Taylor Rashi (3-2, 8.06 ERA): 0.0 IP | 1 H | 5 R | 5 ER | 4 BB | 0 K
Save: Dugan Darnell (4): 1.0 IP | 1 H | 0 R | 2 BB | 2 K
HR(s): Eugene: Aldrete (4), Quinn (4), Munguia (5), Fitzgerald (9) | Spokane: N/A
HOW IT HAPPENED: Thursday’s game started in as ideal a fashion as possible, seeing the Emeralds plate five runs before the Indians ever came to the plate. Heath Quinn, who entered the game having belted three homers over the first two games of the series, got the scoring started in the first with an RBI single to the left side with the bases loaded, legging out an infield single that scored Sean Roby to put the Emeralds up first, 1-0.
Carter Aldrete stepped up one batter later with the bases still loaded, and he brought all three baserunners and himself home with an opposite-field grand slam to right field – Eugene’s second grand slam in as many days after Quinn accomplished the same feat on Wednesday – to put the Emeralds firmly in front first, 5-0.
Spokane’s Jack Blomgren got the Indians on the board an inning later behind an RBI single to left that scored Daniel Cope, but the Emeralds put up another crooked number in the third thanks to a pair of two-run homers, the first from Heath Quinn – his fourth homer in three games – and the second from Ismael Munguia, ballooning Eugene’s lead to 9-1.
Spokane began to chip into Eugene’s sizeable lead in the fifth, plating a trio of runs thanks to a Niko Decolati single and later back-to-back walks with the bases loaded, the first drawn by Hunter Stovall and the second by Kyle Datres, trimming their deficit to five after five innings.
Tyler Fitzgerald got two of those runs back an inning later in the sixth, blasting a two-run homer for what was his second home run in as many games, and the Emeralds would carry that 11-4 lead into the eighth.
That eighth inning, though… it was not ideal; far, far from it.
It all started with left-hander Bryce Tucker coming in out of the bullpen to begin the inning, but Tucker looked uncomfortable from the get-go and surrendered a leadoff double to Kyle Datres on a 2-2 count that was followed by back-to-back walks to Daniel Cope and Cade Harris on a combined nine pitches. Up came leadoff man Jack Blomgren who lifted a fly ball to the warning track in right, just barely missing out on a grand slam but still driving the ball deep enough to score Datres from third and make it 11-5.
Isaac Collins followed in the next at-bat by working a five-pitch walk that loaded the bases once more, and that resulted in Ems manager Dennis Pelfrey turning to right-hander Taylor Rashi out of the bullpen.
Rashi, who entered the night with only eight walks surrendered in 27.2 innings of work, picked up right where Tucker left off, struggling to find the strike zone from the moment he entered. Rashi issued a walk on a full count to the first batter he faced, Niko Decolati, to bring home another Spokane run and make it 11-6, and he then walked Michael Toglia, also on a full count, to bring home another run and bring Spokane within four.
Brenton Doyle delivered on the first pitch of the ensuing at-bat, singling softly to shortstop Nolan Dempsey who had no play to make at any base and resulting in another Spokane run scoring, making it 11-8. Hunter Stovall then worked a walk in the next at-bat, again bringing home a Spokane run, and Kyle Datres did the same in the next at-bat on a full count, bringing home – you guessed it – another Spokane run, and all of the sudden it was a one-run game with the bases still loaded and still just one out.
Pelfrey again emerged from the dugout to turn to his bullpen, again, this time calling upon Ryan Walker to put out the raging inferno that was the eighth inning, but the flames unfortunately continued to grow. Walker got to a 1-2 count to the first batter he faced, Daniel Cope, but two pitches later Cope laced a double to left-center field that brought home all three Indians base runners to put Spokane ahead for the first time in the game, 13-11. Two batters later, the Indians added one more run for good measure as Blomgren doubled home Cope to make it 14-11.
When the inning finally concluded, the Indians had come to the plate fifteen times with six of their nine batters getting two turns at the dish in a half inning that lasted fifty minutes and saw the Emeralds issue seven walks and the Indians score ten runs.
Eugene’s offense tried to return the favor in the top of the ninth and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but leadoff man Ismael Munguia grounded out to first to end the ninth and cap what was, to put it lightly, a frustrating fall in the third game of the six-game set.
Emeralds starting pitcher Kai-Wei Teng got the no-decision after firing 4.1 innings with six strikeouts while allowing four earned runs on four hits and three walks.
Heath Quinn – LF: Quinn continues to be absolute on fire this series, homering for the third straight game and the fourth time overall through just three games in Spokane. The corner outfielder finished the night 3-for-4 with the homer, three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk.
Brett Auerbach – C: Getting his first start of the series at catcher, Auerbach bounced back from what was at times a frustrating night at the plate in the game prior, going 2-for-3 with two walks and a run scored on Thursday.
Carter Aldrete – 3B: Aldrete only tallied one hit on the day, but it was a big one, launching a grand slam in the first for what was his third homer in the last four games that he’s played. Aldrete also worked two walks while going 1-for-3 on Thursday.
Franklin Labour – RF: Eugene’s everyday right fielder continues to produce, going 1-for-2 on Thursday with two walks and two runs scored.
Tyler Fitzgerald – 2B: Fitzgerald homered for the second straight day, launching a 411-foot blast to left for his team-leading ninth home run of the season. He finished the day 1-for-4 with the homer, a walk and two runs scored.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Eugene Emeralds and Spokane Indians continue their six-game series on Friday at Avista Stadium in Spokane. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6:30pm PST.
You can listen live to all the action with Alex Stimson on the call via 95.3FM The Score, via MiLB.com or on the MiLB app.
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