Emeralds shutout Tri-City

Eugene, OR: Thursday night's game featured both the Northwest League West and East leaders. The Eugene Emeralds and Tri-City Dust Devils both came in with a record of 28-18 overall on the year. The Emeralds started 2011 fourth-round pick Cody Hebner.

After a 2-0 loss the night before, the Emeralds were able to bounce back with a 2-0 win of their own against the Dust Devils. It was a pitcher's duel for the most part,. The game had only nine hits. After five innings, it was still scoreless and both teams accounted for only four hits. Both runs would come in the seventh and eighth innings.

After an uneventful first two innings, things started to heat up in the top of the third. Richard Pirkle hit a blooping fly ball to short left field and it seemed Jace Peterson was going to take it down for the first out of the inning, but bobbled it for a two-base error. The Dust Devils moved the runner over to third on a ground ball to the second baseman. With a runner on third and two outs, starting pitcher Cody Hebner recorded his third strikeout to get out of the jam.

"I worked on my mechanics a lot this week and worked on getting ahead," Hebner said. "The results turned out in my favor and I just wanted to give my team a chance to win."

The Dust Devils would threaten again in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff walk and a stolen base, the Emeralds looked like they were going to get out of the inning with back-to-back outs. Leonardo Reyes hit a hard ground ball down the third base line that was stopped by a diving Travis Whitmore. Even though Whitmore was unable to come up with the ball cleanly. He saved a run from scoring and another from being put in scoring position. With runners on the corners, Hebner again was able to get another strike out to end the inning.

"Our pitching staff the last two nights has really given us a chance," manager Pat Murphy said. "We did some good things. The two things about Whitmore, fantastic."

Again the Dust Devils put themselves in scoring position in the top of the fifth. Taylor Featherston led off the inning with a line drive base hit. After a strikeout, there were runners on first and second following a catcher's interference. The Emeralds got their second out of the inning on a fly ball to centerfield and would get out of the inning on a come backer to reliever Matt Andriese. Andreiese made a spectacular play by jumping to grab a hard hit chopper over his head. The great plays in the field and on the mound with two outs saved the Emeralds multiple runs on the night.

The Emeralds threatened in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second. With two outs, first baseman Cole Tyrell couldn't come through with the clutch base hit and the Emeralds were held scoreless again.

Hitters for the Emeralds were happy to see the Dust Devil's starter, Ricardo Ferrer, leave the game after six innings pitched. Ferrer held the Emerald's to three hits and one walk while striking out five. Ferrer's slider was working as hitters were rolling over the pitch all night with 6 of 12 outs put in play were to the shortstop.

The Emerald's pitching staff was able to keep them in the ball game all night. Hebner talked about what it is like to have a bullpen like that to come in after him.

"Feels awesome when we throw up nine zeros," Hebner said. "Our pitching staff has been stellar this year. It's amazing we seemed to give our team a chance to win almost every game and that what you want to do as a pitching staff."

It was to no surprise that when reliever Rhett Ballard came into the game the Emerald's bats came to life. In the bottom of the seventh, the Emeralds had runners on first and second with only one out. After a wild pitch, Whitmore had both runners in scoring position and he walked to load the bases. Peterson came up and lined a ball up the middle on a 2-1 fastball, but shortstop Featherston laid out and pick the liner off one hop. Featherston tried to flip the ball to the second baseman from his belly behind the bag, but his flip went wide. All runners reached base safely and the Emeralds had their first run of the ball game.

"We had bases loaded one out and their shortstop makes an incredible play and doesn't finish," Murphy said. "You know some things went our way."

The lead for the Emeralds increased to 2-0 after a pinch-hit homerun from Dan Killan in the bottom of the eighth.

Peterson led the way offensively going 2-for-4 and had the RBI single to break the game open. Hebner tossed four shut out innings of one hit ball. Chris Wilkes has filled in for Kevin Quackenbush nicely as he picked up his second save of the year.

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