Emeralds win in sloppy fashion against Yakima

EUGENE-- The Eugene Emeralds entered a sunny Sunday afternoon at Civic Stadium winners in three of their last four games in a five-game homestand against the Yakima Bears. By the day's end, it'd be four of five after a commanding 10-4 win.

Surely that must please Eugene manager Doug Dascenzo as the team sets to embark on a five-game road trip to Tri-Cities, right?

Not necessarily.

Sure, there were the timely hits and great defensive plays Sunday. But the Emeralds also committed four errors and were the beneficiaries of some sloppy defensive play by Yakima.

"It's great we won the game today and make it four out of five (against Yakima)," Dascenzo said. "But we didn't win the game the way we want to win it. It was too sloppy of a game. We didn't make plays we should make. We are well aware of that."

Yakima committed two errors in the game and also missed many plays that led to the Emeralds 10-run offensive outburst.

"I don't care about the other team," Dascenzo said. "I care about us. We'll get it right."

Eugene did manage 10 hits, led by Matt Antonelli, Chad Huffman and Luke Cannon, who each went 2-for-4 in the game. Cannon entered Sunday's contest with one RBI on the season but had four by the end of the night after an eighth-inning three-run homer. Huffman also finished with three RBIs to add to his team-leading total of 17 in that category. In all, seven different Eugene batters recorded at least one hit in the game.

"That's great. But, we've got to play better on the other side of the ball," Dascenzo admitted. "The pitchers are making good pitches. We've got to make sure that when they make good pitches and we have outs on the field, we've got to record them."

Antonelli, the night's player of the game, finished with two RBIs but also committed two of Eugene's four errors.

"I felt like I saw the ball pretty well," Antonelli said of his performance at the plate.

When asked about the sloppiness of Sunday's game, Antonelli said, "The defense just wasn't good today. I didn't play very well defensively and they (Yakima) had a few errors also. I'm not sure really why. Just one of those games, I guess. Hopefully we'll clean it up for next game."

The Emeralds scored first in the first inning. Antonelli ripped a line drive back up the middle with two outs, and Craig Cooper followed with a towering fly ball to the shortstop Jason Watson who lost it in the afternoon sun. The ball landed just behind him in left field and Antonelli scored from first after hustling all the way.

After the Bears answered with a solo homerun, Eugene tacked on two more runs in the third. Mike Epping started the one-out rally by drawing a walk. Tom King followed with a hit-and-run single into left field allowing Epping to advance to third. He scored on Antonelli's lined single to make the score 2-1. Cooper followed Antonelli and drew a walk to load the bases for Huffman, who hit a sacrifice fly to put the Emeralds ahead 3-1.

Yakima cut into the lead against reliever Nate Culp in the fourth inning when Lester Contreras hit the ball on the ground to Antonelli at third. Antonelli, who backhanded the ball, made the difficult throw to first but Contreras beat the throw and the ball sailed passed Cooper at first base, allowing Contreras to advance to second. He eventually scored to make the score 3-2.

Eugene added to its lead in the fifth when Antonelli reached base on an error at second and Cooper doubled. Huffman followed with a double of his own to score both Antonelli and Cooper and push the Emeralds lead to 5-2.

But a sloppy top of the sixth allowed Yakima to again cut into Eugene's lead. First baseman Brad Miller doubled when Eugene left-fielder Willy Crafort called off second baseman Brian Lauderdale but misjudged the fly ball, which landed just in front of his outstretched glove, allowing the hustling Miller to reach second base for a double. Connor Janes followed with a shot into left field that was mishandled by Cannon. Miller scored on the play from second, making the score 5-3.

Antonelli's sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning pushed the lead to 6-3.

One inning later, Antonelli's second error of the day led to another Yakima run, but the Emeralds got it back on some more sloppy fielding by the Bears. Catcher Kody Valverde led off with a walk and Cannon reached after Millermishandled the ball and could not make a play at first. Epping drove in Valverde with a two-out single to make the score 7-4.

Yakima threatened in its half of the eighth against Eugene's Stephen Faris. After back-to-back singles and a wild pitch, Faris struck out the Bears' Tito Cruz for the second out of the inning. Yakima's Jason Watson followed with a deep shot to the left-center field gap that looked to be extra bases, but Cannon, the leftfielder, made a running catch to end the inning and preserve the 7-4 lead. He encored with a three run blast in the eighth off of Yakima reliever Roberto Familia, pushing the Emeralds lead to 10-4.

Five Eugene pitchers combined to hold the Bears to four runs on 10 hits. Jackson Quezada, the starter, worked 2.1 innings and gave up one run on two hits and struck out four. Nicholas Tucci came on in the third and picked up the win, his first of the season. He pitched two-thirds of an inning and struck out both batters he faced. Eugene pitchers struck out 12 total Yakima batters.

Eugene, which sits at 15-12, now embarks on a five-game road trip to Tri-Cities (Colorado Rockies) to face a team that sits at 11-16, but has a pitching staff that has been tough on opposing teams. Tri-Cities pitchers boast a 1.17 ERA at home. Start time is 7:15 p.m.

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