Ems win 14th straight, break NWL mark

Spangenberg helps Padres affiliate improve to league-best 17-2

Cory Spangenberg is third in the league with a .388 average. (Shari Sommerfeld/MiLB.com)

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | July 5, 2011 10:01 PM ET

Cory Spangenberg was placed in some lofty company by his manager on Tuesday. That was after the Eugene Emeralds joined a completely exclusive group.

The first-round pick doubled twice and drove in a run, while Lee Orr slugged a grand slam as the Emeralds broke the Northwest League record with their 14th straight win, a 9-2 romp over the Vancouver Canadians.

Eugene broke the mark set by Rogue Valley in 1969 and equaled by Walla Walla four years later. Unbeaten since June 21, the Ems lead the league with 124 runs scored and -- at 17-2 -- already own a six-game cushion over second-place Vancouver in the Western Division.

The streak was in jeopardy only briefly as the Canadians scored a run in the first inning. But Spangenberg, the 10th overall selection last month, doubled with two outs in the bottom half and scored the tying run when Kyle Gaedele drew a bases-loaded walk.

"It was again a guy drawing a walk," Emeralds manager Pat Murphy said. "[Gaedele] could have been greedy and thought about his numbers, but he wasn't. We get a big two-out 3-2 walk and, again, a lot of people swing at that pitch. It was a big walk in a big situation."

Eugene took the lead for good the following inning as Jace Peterson and Spangenberg smacked RBI doubles.

Spangenberg has been one of the Emeralds' key contributors. The 20-year-old second baseman has won the last two Northwest League Player of the Week awards and is batting .388 with 18 RBIs in 19 games. Murphy compared him to another second baseman who played for him at Arizona State.

"I had to coach a player similar to that in Dustin Pedroia," he said. "I feel very lucky to be part of Cory's playing days. Every pitch is personal to him. He plays every pitch, no matter the score or the situation, and it reminds me of Dustin.

"The greatest thing about him is that he's a great player who's humble. He's a humble first-rounder and he's a team guy. You'd never know in the locker room that he was a high pick. His nickname is 'The Child.' He looks like he's about 12 and he plays the game the right way."

Orr's slam in the fourth put the game out of reach for the Emeralds, who broke the mark shared by the 1969 Rogue Valley Dodgers and 1973 Walla Walla Padres.

"It seems like it's a different guy every night, but it was a huge hit," Murphy said of Orr's third homer of the season.

Murphy credited his young team for coming together quickly.

"It's a team," he said. "That might not be always the case when you get a group of new guys, but they like each other and they pick each other up. They don't panic. We mix and match a lot of times, everyone's been playing about equal. They like being around each other and they like competing.

"We're not sacrificing development, we're trying to give these guys as many situations and as many chances, so they can develop as players. We've never mentioned winning or streaks, we just talk about having a great time and playing winning baseball."

Emeralds starter Colin Rea (3-0) remained unbeaten after allowing a run on seven hits while striking out three over five innings.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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