Emeralds lead shrinks to one

Eugene, OR: The Eugene Emeralds have been reeling as of late losing six of their last eight on the road. Even with the skid, the Emeralds still hold a two-game lead over the Vancouver Canadians with four games to go in the first half, but they would not extend their lead over the Canadians as they lost 2-1.

It was quite the pitcher's duel Thursday night at PK Park for the Emeralds game against the Canadians. There was not a single base hit in the ball game until the fifth inning. The Emeralds did not look impressive, as their offensive woes continue. They struck out nine times through the first five innings and their only base runner was a second inning walk by first baseman Zach Kometani.

"We have kind of been in a little bit of struggle lately. The past road trip was tough and they had a good pitcher out there, which didn't help," Kometani said. "We battled, we had some pretty good at-bats. Hopefully we will be able to take the next two from these guys."

Though the Emeralds have struggled offensively, the main reason for that tonight was starting pitcher Justin Nicolino. Nicolino was outstanding for the Canadians as he went 5 innings and gave up no hits, no runs and struck out nine.

The Emerald's pitchers weren't that shabby either, as they combined to give up only two hits and one earned run. The defense let the Emeralds down again as they accounted for three errors and led to one of the runs for the Canadians.

"I am proud of our guys you know they battled. Our pitching kept us in the game and our defense let us down early," manager Pat Murphy said.

In the top of the third, the Canadians found a way on the board without recording a hit. Colin Rea walked the number nine hitter, Matt Newman to start off the inning. After a fly out, The Emeralds looked to be on their way unharmed but Rashad Ingram booted a ground ball for his second error of the game. With runners on the first and second, catcher Jeremy Rodriguez tried to back pick the runner at first. The runner was safe and Newman was able to take third on the play. On the very next pitch, Jonathan Jones stole second and Newman scored on the Rodriguez's throw to second. The bleeding stopped there with the Canadian's up 1-0.

In the top of the fifth, the Canadians would score again on a solo homerun from leadoff man, Jon Berti.

Change would come in the seventh inning. Jace Peterson tried to steal second after his lead off walk. He looked to be safe, but base umpire Matthew Czajak saw it other wise and rung up Peterson. This prompted a furious Murphy to come out to have a nice chat with Czajak. The act proved to be the change the Emeralds needed because after 6 2/3 innings, the torture was over as they recorded their first base hit of the game from Kometani. The following pitch Kometani stole his second bag of the night. Pinch hitter Jose Dore came up huge with a line drive base hit to center to give the Emerald's their first run of the ball game and making the score 2-1.

"I guess I just got opportunities to run today a little bit. I'm not really known for my speed by any means," joked Kometani.

Other than the pitching staff, Kometani was the only bright spot for the Emeralds. He finished his night going 2-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases.

In the eighth, the Emeralds retired the side and picked up the bats. With one out, the Emeralds went back to work with Travis Whitmore lining a double off the right center wall. The Emeralds were not able to capitalize with a runner in scoring position as the inning ended with a strike out and a line out.

Hoping to climb back in the game, the Emeralds received a leadoff double from Peterson in the final stanza. There was controversy on the play as the centerfield looked to make a diving catch on Peterson's line drive, but there was no signal made. With the Canadian's thinking they recorded their first out, Peterson took off for second and was called safe. Canadians were shocked and gave the Emeralds a runner in scoring position with no one out.

Lee Orr followed that up with a fly out to center and Peterson was unable to advance. With a 2-2 count on Kometani, he check swung at a slider in the dirt and some how hit the ball off the bounce. The ball scooted down the third base line and stayed fair for a base hit. The base hit put the runners on the corners and only one down.

The Emeralds looked like they were going to be able to muster up just enough magic for a late inning comeback, but the next two batter would go down by way of fly out and strike out to end the game.

"There is no sense complaining or explaining. Just keep playing and play hard," Murphy said.

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