Emeralds rally falls short

Eugene, OR-- Justin Baum's second homer in as many night's gave the Ems hope but their rally came up short as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes beat Eugene 6-5 Saturday night.

The Emeralds could not overcome their own sloppy defense or the timely hitting of the Volcanoes. The Ems struck out 16 times and Salem-Keizer catcher Jackson Williams' homerun in the eighth proved to be the difference.

"You have these kind of night's where you are going to struggle," said Kellen Kulbacki of the unusually high number of strikeouts. "But we battled and we certainly did not give up and that's the great thing about this team is that we never give up. Unfortunately for us, we came up on the short end tonight."

The Emeralds dug themselves a hole early with poor defense. Two hits and back-to-back errors by third baseman Justin Baum gave the Volcanoes two runs. A sacrifice fly and RBI base hits by Matt Downs and Chad Rothford accounted for the other three runs. By the time the inning was over the Ems had given up five runs and starter Mat Latos was no longer in the ballgame.

Latos worked 1.2 innings surrendering four hits, and five runs, though only two were earned. He took the loss and his record drops to 0-3. Salem-Keizer reliever Jesse English was splendid in relief and ran his record to 4-0. English pitched three innings of scoreless ball and amazingly struck out nine hitters.

Trailing by five, the Ems fought back in their half of the second. Kellen Kulbacki broke out of a mini-slump with a double and Danny Payne walked to start the inning. They both advanced on a wild pitch and came home on Yefri Carvajal's two-out double down the third baseline.

Another clutch two-out hit drew the Ems closer in the third. Baum leadoff with a single, but the next two hitters failed to reach. Payne kept the inning alive by dropping down a picture perfect drag bunt and Justin Pickett singled to center picking up his 18th RBI of the year. After three the score was 5-3 Volcanoes.

Eugene got within a run in the seventh inning. Eric Sogard led off with a walk and moved into second base on a fielder's choice. Yet another two-out hit, this one by Kulbacki brought Sogard around and made the score Volcanoes 5, Ems 4.

After Baum's homerun the Ems had only one out, but they were unable to get the tying run on base. Eugene now stands six games back of the Volcanoes in the NWL's West Division.

"It's obviously a big series and we know we can compete with these guys," Kulbacki said of the crucial set of games. "I think the biggest thing for tomorrow is just to put this one behind us and come out fresh."

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