The Eugene Emeralds (10-15) capped the homestand with a tough loss on Monday evening, falling 9-7 to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (17-8) on Wildlife Night at PK Park, presented by Wildlife Safari.
The Emeralds struck first in the bottom of the first, jumping out to a 2-0 lead thanks to an early two-out rally. After Volcanoes starting pitcher Alex DuBord retired the first two batters in order, Chase Strumpf and Zac Taylor delivered back-to-back singles, both to center field. Grayson Byrd then followed with a single of his own, scoring Strumpf to put the Ems up, 1-0. One batter later, Jake Slaughter smacked a ground rule double over the right field fence to bring home Taylor and put Eugene up by a pair of runs early.
However, it didn't take long for the Salem-Keizer offense to respond, and they did it in an explosive fashion. The Volcanoes erupted for eight runs in the top of the second, highlighted by a two-run homer from Alexander Canario, his first of the season. All told, twelve Volcanoes hitters came to the plate in the second inning, an inning that saw the departure of Emeralds starting pitcher Zach Mort who lasted only 1.2 innings. Maikel Aguiar spelled Mort to end the inning, but the damage had been done as Salem-Keizer carried a six-run advantage heading into the bottom of the second.
From there, the Emeralds slowly but surely began to chip away at the Salem-Keizer lead.
Chicago Cubs 2nd rounder (2019) Chase Strumpf injected life back into the PK Park crowd in the bottom of the third inning when he launched his first professional home run, a no-doubter to left field that struck halfway up the scoreboard stanchion.
In the fifth, Edmond Americaan led the inning off with a walk, followed by a double from Yonathan Perlaza to put runners on second and third. That led to Volcanoes manager Mark Hallberg to yank DuBord and call upon Chris Roberts, but he immediately ran into more trouble. A wild pitch from Roberts on the first batter he faced allowed Americaan to score while enabling Perlaza to advance to third. Later in the same at-bat, Strumpf delivered his second RBI of the game with a groundout that easily allowed Perlaza to score, cutting the Salem-Keizer lead to 8-5.
The Ems got within one just two innings later thanks to more timely hitting. With Americaan on second and Strumpf on first, Zac Taylor ripped a double down the left field line to score both runners and send the PK Park crowd of more than 4,000 strong into a frenzy. Their excitement would soon toon to ire, though, as Taylor was ruled out on a controversial call while attempting to steal third. Later in the same at-bat, Grayson Byrd delivered a bloop triple to left field that got past Salem-Keizer's Kwan Adkins' diving attempt, but Byrd was stranded at third as the Volcanoes escaped the inning with a one-run lead.
Salem-Keizer added some insurance in the eighth after Yunior Perez came out of the bullpen. The imposing right-hander had trouble with his command, walking three batters and plunking another, but Riley McCauley came in to limit the damage as the Ems escaped allowing just one run.
The Emeralds would get no closer, though, as late attempts at a rally fizzled out in the eighth and ninth innings to see the Volcanoes leave town with a 9-7 win.
Chicago Cubs 12th rounder (2019) Hunter Bigge made his Emeralds debut on Monday night, and he impressed mightily. The former two-way player at Harvard tossed 2.0 scoreless innings with five strikeouts while allowing one hit and two walks. Bigge notably accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball during the 7th inning, striking out four batters in one inning after one of his strikeout victims reached first base when the ball got away from Emeralds catcher Jonathan Soto.
Maikel Aguiar was also strong in relief, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed and one walk while striking out four Volcanoes batters.
The Emeralds now head back on the road for a seven-game roadtrip after enjoying an off day on Tuesday. The Emeralds and Volcanoes will face off once more for a four-game series in Keizer starting 0n Wednesday, then the Ems head east to the Treasure Valley where they'll take on the Boise Hawks for a three-game series.
The Ems return home on June 17 for a three-game series against South Division rival Hillsboro. The upcoming homestand is highlighted by an appearance from Red Titan Ryan, Grateful Dead Night, and a Baseballism Hat Giveaway.
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.