Sogard helps Ems win fourth straight

Eugene, OR – Before the Independence Day festivities could begin at Civic Stadium, Eugene Emeralds second baseman Eric Sogard had a spectacle of his own to exhibit.

In front of 7,288 fans, Eric Sogard helped the Emeralds (11-5) rip off their fourth win in a row in a 5-1 victory over the Yakima Bears (5-11).

It was the first appearance for Sogard, who was taken in the second-round of the 2007 draft out of Arizona State.

"I had to sit two games and it was real tough watching," Sogard said. "I really wanted to get out there, but I got my chance and had some fun."

The season high crowd came to the annual Independence Day celebration at Civic Stadium, a holiday staple that dates back 21 years. Tonight marked the first July 4th home game the Ems have played since 2002.

Through the first five innings, the contest looked to be a pitcher's duel, with both teams combining to produce just four hits and one run.

Eugene starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner led the way with four solid innings, allowing just three base runners while striking out five to come away with a no-decision.

Equally effective was Yakima's Bryant Thompson (1-3), who earned the loss despite throwing well over six innings. Bryant was able to space out three hits and three walks over his start, but cost himself a pair of runs when he balked in runners from third.

The first came in the third inning after Keith Conlon hit a deep stand up double to left center field. Conlon advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Luis Durango and scored on Thompson's balk with Kellen Kulbacki up to bat.

The Bears answered back in the sixth inning against reliever John Hussey (2-0), who was making his first relief appearance of the season. After hitting Jo-Jo Batten in the back to start the inning, Hussey walked Edward Easley and gave up an infield single to Clayton Conner, loading the bags. Batten scored on a fielder's choice to first baseman Shane Buschini.

Thompson gave up his second run after Luis Durango hit a deep triple off the right field wall. With Sogard at bat, Thompson balked for a second time, sending Durango in to score.

Once Thompson left the game, the fireworks really began for Eugene. With Daniel Vazquez relieving in the seventh inning, Justin Baum led off with a quick grounder up the left side of the field.

After Buschini flied out to center field, Baum advanced to second on a bloop fly to shallow right by Andrew Parrino. Conlon brought in Buschini with his second double of the night.

With runners on second and third, Durango belted a short line drive to center field that scored Parrino. Sogard finished the scoring with an RBI single that brought in Conlon.

In his first game, Sogard finished 1-2 with an RBI, a stolen base and two walks while displaying some of the defensive talent that made him the Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10.

"I felt great. It was exciting the whole time I was here," Sogard said. "The Pac-10 was solid and it prepared me for what this is all about."

Once the Ems had a solid lead, Allen Harrington finished the Bears off, throwing two scoreless innings to end the game.

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