Los Monarcas de Eugene (10-7, 26-29) won in thrilling fashion on Sunday evening, coming from behind to defeat the Vancouver Canadians (5-11, 20-35) by a final score of 3-2 in front of 3,764 fans at PK Park.
Suiting up in alternate black uniforms, the Eugene Emeralds transformed into Los Monarcas de Eugene as part of Minor League Baseball's Copa de la Diversion initiative.
Just hours removed from arriving back in the Emerald Valley after making the long trip home from Boise, the Ems aimed to snap a mini two-game skid and stay in the second half playoff hunt as they opened a three-game home series against Vancouver, the C's only regular season trip to Eugene this season.
Both offenses were held at bay through the first three innings thanks to strong performances from each side's starting pitcher, but the Canadians struck twice in the top of the fourth to take the game's first lead. With Jesus Lopez and Will Robertson on third and second, respectively, a Blake Whitney wild pitch allowed Lopez to score from third and Robertson to advance to third, putting the C's up, 1-0. Later in the same at-bat, Ronny Brito sent a soaring sac fly to center field that proved just deep enough for Robertson to tag from third and score, giving Vancouver a 2-0 lead.
However, Vancouver's lead proved to be short-lived as the Emeralds responded with their own pair of runs to tie the game. With Jacob Olson on second base and two outs, newcomer Josue Huma continued the impressive start to his stint as an Emerald by delivering an RBI single to center field that scored Olson and cut Eugene's deficit in half. One batter later, Fernando Kelli tapped a would-be, inning-ending grounder to third base, but Vancouver's Ronny Brito wasn't able to deliver an accurate throw to first base, instead sailing the ball over C's first baseman Trevor Schwecke while allowing Huma to come around to score and tie the game at 2-2.
Again, both pitching staffs dug in as neither side threatened much until the ninth inning when Caleb Knight came through.
Vancouver started the bottom of the ninth by bringing on new pitcher Mike Pascoe, and he was quickly greeted by a leadoff double by Pedro Martinez, putting the winning run in scoring position right out of the gate. Edmond Americaan followed by moving Martinez up 90 feet with a groundout to second base, and Caleb Knight then strolled to the plate, smacking the first pitch he saw into left-center field to cap the comeback in walk-off fashion.
With the win, the Emeralds remain 1.0 game behind the Hillsboro Hops in the race for the second-half South Division crown. Eugene is aiming to claim it's third Northwest League title in four seasons after winning the Freitas Cup in 2016 and 2018.
Emeralds starting pitcher Chris Clarke was once again superb in limited duty, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings while surrendering just two hits and one walk along with four strikeouts.
After Clarke exited, Blake Whitney entered for yet another long relief outing, allowing four hits, one walk and two runs in 4.0 innings of work, striking out six Canadians batters in the process.
Hunter Bigge capped the pitching performances on the mound for the Ems, firing 2.0 scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and two strikeouts.
The Emeralds look to claim a series win over the Canadians on Monday with 2019 Chicago Cubs 3rd rounder Michael McAvene slated to start on the mound. Monday is Mixed Up Monday, Good Karma Monday (presented by Yogi) and HDC Vodkarita Monday (presented by Heritage Distilling Company).
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.