Durango walk-off powers Eugene

Eugene, OR-- Luis Durango is predominantly known for his speed, using his natural athleticism to get on base and outrun throws most players could not. Tonight, he showed he is more than just a skilled baserunner, knocking in the final three runs, including a walk-off homerun, to lead the Eugene Emeralds to a 7-6 comeback over the visiting Yakima Bears.

"I was not looking to hit a homerun, but was looking for a good pitch to get a lot of contact," Luis Durango said.

Durango's solo shot over the right field wall in the tenth inning capped a five-run rally that began in the eighth when the Ems were down 6-2.

"When I hit it, I knew it was gone, but when I saw it leave the park, I got really excited as I was running the bases," Durango said.

Through the first seven innings, Eugene played sloppy and looked nothing like the team that had won five straight games coming into the final game of tonight's homestand. The Emeralds committed four errors, leading to four unearned runs.

The first came when shortstop Lance Zawadzki overthrew first base after fielding a groundball hit by Yakima's Aaron Hanke. Ramon Hernandez batted in Hanke with a double to left field. Yakima took a 2-0 lead the next inning off of Mark Hallberg's solo homerun to centerfield.

Though the Emeralds cut into the lead with a Justin Pickett's RBI-single in the bottom of the inning, they gave it back and more. The Emeralds committed two errors in the fifth inning, leading to three more runs and a 5-1 deficit.

Eugene again answered back in the bottom of the inning when Pickett reached base after being hit by Yakima pitcher Daniel Fournier. After a wild pitch sent Pickett to second, Danny Payne drove him home with a shallow line drive to center field.

Yakima scored their final run in the eighth when Evan Frey hit an RBI-single off of Eugene's Chris Perez, bringing home Joel Melendez.

Once again, the Emeralds answered back in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with the first three batters. Justin Baum reached on a groundball single to left field, while Payne and Ray Stokes loaded the bags with consecutive walks. Brian Joynt drove in Baum and Payne on a sharp grounder that skipped passed third base into left field. Stokes advanced to third and Joynt to second on the throw to home. After Luis Martinez struck out pinch-hitting for Aedan McQueary, Durango came to the plate and knocked the ball deep into right-center field, bringing in Stokes and Joynt.

"I was looking for a pitch (to hit the other) way and hit the ball deep," Durango said.

The Emeralds threatened to win the game in regulation when Pickett hit a leadoff single into left field in the bottom of the ninth. He advanced to second on a botched pickoff attempt by Yakima pitcher Daniel Vazquez, but Vazquez was able to retire the side without further damage.

After Vazquez struck out Martinez to begin the tenth, Durango hit his second homerun of the season to win the game.

Eugene's Jackson Quezada (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game for the Emeralds and earn the victory.

MadFriars Top Stories