Emeralds fall 6-2 in home opener

EUGENE-- In the season-opening series on the road against the Boise Hawks, the Eugene Emeralds pounded out 59 total hits, scored 39 total runs and hit .316 while winning four of five games.            

But the hot hitting on the road did not carry over to Saturday's 2006 home opener against the Spokane Indians (Texas Rangers) – a team that entered the game winless in its first five games.

The Indians scored three runs in the first inning off Emeralds' starter Jackson Quezada and Spokane starter Jose Jaimes pitched a solid five innings of work to help the Indians claim the 6-2 victory.

Despite the loss, first-year manager Doug Dascenzo said he is not concerned about the decline in production compared to the offensive outburst in Boise.

"I mean, hey, it's the first night at home…long bus ride…I'm not worried," an unshaken Dascenzo admitted. "I'm not worried at all…We just got down a little bit early. We'll be alright tomorrow"

Eugene managed five hits in the game, led by Chad Huffman, the Padres' second round selection this year out of TCU, who went 1-for-3 with a homerun. Craig Cooper finished 1-for-4 with an RBI and David Freese was also 1-for-4 with a double and run scored. The Padres' first round selection, Matt Antonelli, finished 0-for-3 with a walk.

"They just missed some balls tonight, but they hit a couple balls hard," Dascenzo remarked. "But what we noticed in the first series is once they get rolling, it kind of keeps going. When you have some tough luck at times and you don't get it rolling, that's the way it goes."

Spokane jumped out quickly on Quezada. Following a single and a stolen base by leadoff batter Craig Gentry, Wally Backman Jr. singled past first baseman Craig Cooper allowing Gentry to score. Backman Jr. then scored after third basemen Steve Marquardt took a 0-1 pitch and doubled down the left-field line.

Marquardt advanced to third and scored when designated hitter Chad Tracy hit a chopper to third baseman, Matt Antonelli, who bare-handed the ball but did not get Tracy in time at first.

Quezada eventually settled down and retired ten of the next 11 Spokane batters. He finished by pitching four innings, surrendering three runs on five hits and striking out three.

"Quezada had a rough first inning, but he came back strong," a pleased Dascenzo said. "That's a positive."

Eugene was held scoreless until the fourth inning when, with one out, Freese, the designated hitter, took a 0-2 pitch off the left-field wall for a double. Freese, who entered the game hitting .438 with two homeruns and seven RBIs, scored and cut the deficit to 3-1 when Cooper lined a single past Indians' shortstop Thomas Berkery.

But Spokane got the run back in the fifth inning when Eugene pitcher Matt Buschmann entered the game in relief of Quezada and hit the first two batters. Buschmann then threw a wild pitch allowing the runners to advance. A sacrifice fly by Backman Jr. then drove in a run.

Backman led the Indians attack, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored. He was one of four Indians with multiple hits. Berkery, the shortstop, also drove in two runs. The Indians finished with ten hits in the game. On the mound, Jaimes pitched very effectively for Spokane while picking up the victory. He finished by working five solid innings, surrendering four hits and one earned run. He struck out four and walked only one.

Glen Swanson replaced Jaimes in the sixth and allowed one run – Huffman's solo homerun over the left-center field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning. The homer cut the Emeralds deficit in half, but the Indians again countered with two more in the eighth for the final margin of victory at 6-2.

The Emeralds and Indians meet again tomorrow at Civic Stadium. Eugene's probable starter is left-hander Orlando Lara, who was roughed up in his first start in Boise. Lara (0-0, 9.00 ERA) pitched three innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs. He'll face Spokane starter Mike Ballard (0-0, 9.00). Ballard also struggled in his first start against Salem-Keizer, giving up five hits and four runs (three earned) in three innings of work. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.

MadFriars Top Stories