Emeralds tied atop Northwest League

Eugene, OR: A disappointing offensive night for the Emeralds led to another loss to the Vancouver Canadians. With a final score of 7-1, the Emeralds could muster little against the Canadians strong pitching.

The Emeralds have fallen from their once great lead in the Northwest League, and are now tied with the Canadians with just three games left in the first half of the season.

The Emeralds have lost eight of the past ten games and are 2-8 since star second baseman Cory Spangenberg was called up to the long-season Single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps 11 days ago.

Emeralds pitcher James Needy (0-3) was roughed up from the beginning. Needy pitched just 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on ten hits. The Canadians scored in four of the first five innings, and the Emeralds were put in an immediate hole.

Manager Pat Murphy knows the Emeralds need to improve their pitching if they stand a chance of beating the Canadians tomorrow. He insists pitching is the key to staying in games and giving their offense a chance.

"We're capable of doing well the next three days," Murphy said. "We're going to face some tough pitching tomorrow. And we're going to battle. That's all we can do right now. This was the first game we've been out of in a long, long time. There hasn't been that many we've been out of. I know you can count on one hand how many games we've been out of."

On the offensive side, right fielder Lee Orr was the first Emerald to get a hit with his single in the fourth. He hit a one-out single and stole second, but was unable to score.

The Emeralds threatened again in the fifth. Matt Colantonio led off the inning with a single and Travis Whitmore flew out. Jorge Minyety followed with a fielder's choice. Minyety stole second, but Jace Peterson was unable to bring him home.

The sixth inning brought in the only run, with Mykal Stokes scoring on Orr's sacrifice fly to center. Stokes led of the inning with a single, stole second and advanced to third on pitcher Blake McFarland's wild pitch.

Murphy is still unhappy with certain aspects of the Emeralds play and hopes to continue to improve as the season goes on.

"[We have] a lot of inexperience in the infield and its really hurt us and we've still been in games," he said. "We're bound to come back to earth a bit after a 14-game winning streak. Its one of those things where, you lose a player like [Cory} Spangenberg, you lose [Donavan] Tate. We're still not playing great baseball. The things that I'm talking about are base running, defense, those are the things you can control, and we haven't done that."

The Emeralds need to learn to control these aspects, as it is a crucial part of the season. They are tied with the Canadians with three games remaining in the first half of the season, and if they win two of the next three they will have an automatic bid to the playoffs.

"They're a little tired and they're a little banged up and they're inexperienced," Murphy said. "They're trying as hard as they can. Quite frankly, I'm proud of them. When your team's not doing well, you have to get with them and look for the positive things and we just have to bring them out of it. We've got three games to play and I feel like we can do it. I do, I believe we're gonna do it. But that doesn't do any good."

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