Emeralds lose home opener

The Eugene Emeralds opened up their 50th season in the Northwest League with a 5-4 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The two teams, which finished the 2008 regular season with identical records, have met a total of 630 times with Salem-Keizer leading the all-time series 322-308.

Despite the cloudy, cold and windy weather, 5, 418 fans came to help commemorate Opening Day in the Ems' 40th and most likely, final season at historic Civic Stadium.

The Ems jumped out to a quick lead in the bottom of the first, as Jason Codiroli smacked a lead-off home run over the right field fence off of Volcanoes right-hander Orlando Yntema.

Ems' Manager Greg Riddoch, in his ninth season in Eugene, gave the start to Pedro Hernandez, who was signed by San Diego as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 and spent 2008 in the Dominican Summer League, where he was 7-2 with a 1.42 ERA in 14 games.

Hernandez was commanding through the first two innings, giving up one hit, no runs and striking out two, but from there, things fell apart quickly for the 20-year-old left-hander from Venezuela.

The Volcanoes had a monstrous third inning as they tallied three hits and five RBI, four from the bat of Volcanoes' CJ Ziegler, who hit a one-out grand slam to make the score 5-1. Hernandez got out of the inning, but the Volcanoes never looked back.

After three scoreless innings, the Ems finally answered in the fifth, as 18-year-old Edinson Rincon connected for his second hit of the game with a two-RBI single to make the score 5-3. Rincon struck again in the seventh inning with another RBI single that brought the Ems within one, 5-4. Rincon, who got the start at third base, finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, and three RBI.

"[Rincon's performance] was great," Riddoch said. "He's only 18 years old, playing against guys six years older than him."

Despite the comeback, 5-4 was as close as it would ever get. After Yntema went five innings, giving up eight hits, three earned runs and striking out two batters, the Volcanoes bullpen gave up just one run in the final four innings.

Regardless of the loss, the main story of the night was the solid performance from the Ems' bullpen. Right-hander Tyson Bagley, who relieved Hernandez in the top of the fourth, worked three scoreless innings for the Ems, giving up just one hit and walking two. Al Angelucci pitched the seventh and eighth innings also giving up one hit, walking two and striking out two. Right-hander David Erickson worked the ninth inning, striking out two, not allowing a single hit.

"They did a great job today," Rincon said.

"Spectacular," said Riddoch of the bullpen's performance. "One inning got us. If we didn't have the one bad inning, we would have been right back in it."

That one bad inning seemed to be on everyone's mind after the game.

"We had one bad inning," Codiroli said. "If we didn't have that one bad inning, we win this game easy."

"It was a good night," Riddoch said. "I'm excited about it regardless of the outcome of the game, win or lose."

"It's a long season, that's the way we have to look at it," Codiroli said.

The Ems continue the three-game home-stand on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. and wrap-up the series on Monday. The opening pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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