Eugene's title defense started on the right note Friday night as the Emeralds opened the 2019 season by downing the Hillsboro Hops, 2-0, in front of a packed house at PK Park.
Boasting fifteen returners from last year's Northwest League title-winning team, the Ems and new manager Lance Rymel started the new season in front of a lively crowd of more than 4,000 fans.
The Ems coincidentally picked up right where they left off last season. After famously winning the 2018 NWL title thanks to a walk-off balk, the first Emeralds run of the 2019 season just so happened to also come the very same way.
With Edmond Americaan at the plate and runners on first and third, a balk by Hops starting pitcher Luis Frias brought home Jake Slaughter from third base to give the Ems the season's first lead.
Later in the same at-bat, Americaan delivered a double to drive home Jonathan Soto from second and put Eugene ahead, 2-0.
That proved to be all the scoring needed on a night when the Emeralds pitching staff put on a show.
Starting pitcher Zach Mort, a returner from Eugene's 2018 season, began the season with a strong, four-inning outing that included three hits and three walks as well as five strikeouts.
Eduarniel Nunez and Carlos Vega each followed, respectively, with a pair of scoreless, two-inning performances to pave the way for Ivan Medina to close the door in the ninth with the save, the fourteenth save in fifteen career opportunities for the hard-throwing Venezuelan.
Eugene will look to clinch the series win on Saturday when 19-year old right-hander Kohl Franklin will make his first-ever appearance above Rookie-level ball.
Saturday's first pitch between the Emeralds and Hops is scheduled for 7:05pm and you can watch live via MiLB.tv or listen to Matt Dompe on the call on 95.3FM The Score.
Tickets to Emeralds home games are on sale now at www.EmeraldsBaseball.com or by calling (541) 342-5367.
Stay up to date with the Emeralds by following the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.