Eugene trounced in mistake filled game

Eugene, OR – The penultimate game of the 2007 season for the Eugene Emeralds couldn't have ended any sooner. Shaky pitching and sloppy fielding combined to derail the Ems against the visiting Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, as Eugene lost 12-5 before 2,562 fans at Civic Stadium Tuesday evening.

Jeremy Hefner, John Hussey, Matt Handley, and Matt Huff combined to walk 12 batters while Emeralds committed four errors on defense as the Volcanoes efficiently outscored the Emeralds despite being garnering three less hits in the contest.

Shane Jordan led off the game with a walk for Salem, followed by Brock Bonds, who singled to put runners on first and second. Matt Downs moved the two into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Jordan scored on a low and outside pitched that skipped past Justin Pickett. Andy D'Alessio followed up with an RBI-double hit barely fair down the right field line.

The scoring run finished three batters later when Jackson Williams hit a single up the middle to centerfielder Luis Durango that brought in D'Alessio. Durango attempted to throw out Garrett Baker at third, but launched the ball into the Volcanoes' dugout, allowing Baker to give Salem an early 4-0 lead.

Kellen Kulbacki began an Emeralds rally an inning later, blasting a double to right field to lead off the second. Robbie Blauer followed up with a double of his own that skipped inside first base down into right field foul territory to make it 4-1.

Oliver Odle recorded the next two outs before walking Justin Pickett. With runners at the corners, Edgar Garzon hit a bloop fly to shallow right to bring in Blauer. Durango followed with an RBI-single to left field that brought his home hitting streak to 35 games and ended the rally a run shy at 4-3.

The Volcanoes answered back with some hot bats of their own as D'Alessio led off the third with a homerun to straightaway centerfield. Baker followed with a triple hit just inside of the fence in centerfield. Durango once again overthrew the play at third, sending Baker home for the second consecutive time.

Hefner (2-5) left the game after the four innings, giving up four earned runs and four walks while striking out two. Hussey entered the fifth with a 6-3 deficit and fared little better. D'Alessio walked to begin the inning and was able to reach third on consecutive wild pitches by Hussey. After striking out Baker, Hussey walked Davis to put runners at the corners. Williams followed up with a bloop hit, which Pickett fielded and threw over first base into right field, allowing D'Alessio and Davis to score. Hussey finished the day by giving up an RBI-single to Bruce Davis, throwing one more wild pitch, and walking Shane Jordan before recording the final out of the inning.

Pickett was briefly able to get the crowd on its feet as he blasted his team leading ninth homerun of the season into left field to lift the Emeralds to within five. The excitement was short lived, though, as Bond hit a double off of Handley in the seventh that brought in Edwards and Sharlon Schoop.

The clubs swapped runs in the eighth and ninth to end the contest. Eugene and Salem will meet tomorrow evening for the final match of the regular season. Afterwards, the Volcanoes will meet either the Boise Hawks or the Tri-City Dust Devils in a three game series to determine the Northwest League Champions. The Hawks (37-38) and Dust Devils (36-39) are in a virtual deadlock atop the Eastern Division of the NWL as Tri-City holds a tie-breaker between the two clubs. The winner of the division will be determined tomorrow evening as the two teams meet in a winner-takes-all finale to the regular season.

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