Bats come alive in Emeralds win

Eugene, OR – An hour and twenty minutes into Sunday afternoon's contest between the Eugene Emeralds and the Vancouver Canadians, Bryan Collins got Kellen Kulbacki to pop out, finally recording the third out of the second inning. After the dust had settled, the Emeralds found themselves on top, 13-1.

"Everybody's seeing the ball really well today," said second baseman Eric Sogard. "We came out swinging the bat."

The Ems racked up 17 hits en route to a 18-7 romp over the Canadians, easily the highest scoring affair Eugene has been in this season. Sogard led the batting barrage for the game in which every starting player got on base at least twice and scored at least once. In six at-bats, Sogard collected four hits, including two doubles, to drive in four runs.

Despite the high score, the Ems kept the scoring inside the park for the most part. Only one run was scored via a homerun, a solo-shot in the eighth inning by Keith Conlon that capped the scoring burst at 18 runs.

"It kind of felt like everything was dropping our way," Sogard said. "Even if we didn't hit the ball hard, it would fall in there and find a way."

Not to be outdone by his teammate, Conlon hit 3-for-4 and reached base in all six of his at-bats. He fell a triple shy of the cycle in driving in three runs while scoring four of his own.

"Our pitching has carried us all year, and now guys are starting to figure it out with the bat," Conlon said.

After 26 games into the season, the Emeralds are on pace to produce the finest pitching season in club history. The pitching staff has been stellar in 2007, limiting opponents to just 2.57 runs per game. Along with Salem-Keizer, Eugene is the only team in the Northwest League to have a team ERA under 4.20. During this period, Eugene bats have been sporadic at times. The team has raised its batting average to .260 on the year, a number that has risen considerably since combining to score 27 runs off of 30 hits in the first two games of a three game series against the Canadians at Civic Stadium.

"I think guys are starting to figure out the wood bats a little bit and starting to understand the philosophy of Jose Flores, our hitting coach," Conlon said.

That may seem high, but the Emeralds have needed every run against Vancouver, which has scored seven runs in each of their losses in Eugene.

"You can't really sit back," Conlon said. "You don't want to give away at-bats. When you're feeling good, you want to try and get as many hits as you can."

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