In tonight’s loss to Hillsboro, the Emeralds sent two position players to the mound after going through seven regular pitchers, one of who took the loss on Sunday night to the Hillsboro Hops 9-7.
The player that looked the most impressive was Guamanian first baseman Trae Santos, who threw two shutout innings for Eugene after hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning.
“It was my junior year of college that was the last time that I took the mound,” said an exhausted Santos on the steps of the dugout after the marathon.
Santos was drafted in the seventeenth of the 2013 draft out of Troy State in Alabama, where his family moved to from Guam when he was 13 to allow him to fully take advantage of his baseball opportunities.
“I had some injuries, and a really good year with the bat, so Troy State put my pitching on hold.”
Until tonight, the left-handed Santos hadn’t pitched in a competitive game in over two years, but he was ready when Emeralds’ manager Robbie Wine gave him the call.
“Our manager named me the position player at the beginning of the year that I would come in and throw if we needed someone. So yeah, I knew it could happen but I hadn’t really been working at it either.”
The Emeralds got off to a strong start thanks to Santos, whose grand slam home run capped off an explosive first inning for Eugene that saw them send eleven men to the plate and jump off to a 5-1 lead.
Hillsboro plated three runs in the fourth, and Eugene answered with two more in the bottom of the inning followed by three more by the Hops and that was all the scoring until the Hops scored two off of Em’s third baseman Joey Epperson twelve innings later.
Both teams had numerous opportunities to score, including at the end of the game when second baseman Felipe Blanco struck out swinging with the bases loaded.
Santos, who has been seeing more playing time at first base with regular first baseman Marcus Davis out with a hamstring, was clearly the star of the game with both his bat and glove, and possibly could be the next dual threat, a-la Jason Lane of El Paso.
“That would be ok with me,” smiled Santos on the prospect of becoming a lefty relief pitcher/first baseman/pinch-hitter.
“Anytime you can be compared with Jason Lane that is an incredible honor.”