EUGENE, Ore. -- According to Eugene Emeralds manager Jim Gabella, consistency is “The name of the game.”
The Ems are looking for something far different than their first half of the Northwest League season.
The team lost their first game of the second half, but they came back with a vengeance in their second game against the Boise Hawks.
The Ems all lined up on the fence of the dugout, each sporting their green, white, and black uniforms. They cheered as their teammates joined them in the dugout. That night, their smiles never left their tired and sweaty faces. The Ems carried out their first win in the second half of the Northwest League season, defeating the Hawks 5-1.
The game did start in a lull. By the bottom of the fourth inning, as the 90-degree Eugene air began cooling down, the Emeralds began to blaze. Ems designated hitter Henry Charles scored when Ems right fielder Hunter Renfroe doubled on a line drive to Hawks center fielder Jacob Hannemann. Renfroe scored again when second baseman Fernando Perez doubled on a line drive to Hawks left fielder David Bote. Renfroe and Charles’ scores put the Ems up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
After a couple of failed scoring attempts from the Hawks, the Ems put another run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth when Ems right fielder Renfroe hit a homer that had the crowd erupting in cheers. Ems second baseman Perez followed in Renfroe’s footsteps, hitting a homer of his own in the bottom of the seventh.
Renfroe said, “I’ve been swinging the bat really well right now, and I just got to continue on that.”
The Hawks’ only score came in the top of the eighth from Hawks center fielder Hannemann when Hawks right fielder Yasiel Balaguert grounded into a force out.
On the Ems’ defense for the night, Renfroe said, “Defense played pretty well overall; better game defensively for us.”
The Ems answered the Hawks’ score in the bottom of the eighth with a score from Ems shortstop Felipe Blanco when Ems center fielder Ronnie Richardson, who returned to the field last night after missing the last few games, went out on a sacrifice fly to Hawks center fielder Hannemann, putting the score at 5-1 to end the ball game.
On Richardson, Gabella said, “His timing is off a hair, but he knocked in a big run there with the sacrifice fly. We talked about situational hitting and we got a big run there late in the game by him.”
The Ems capitalized on their nine hits last night, putting their team in the lead for the long haul.
Gabella said, “Timely hits is what wins and we did that tonight.”
Renfroe added, “I thought we played really well. We had nine hits; one of our better hitting performances of the year so far. We hit the balls hard and got guys in when they needed to be.”
The win puts the Ems at 14-26. The Hawks fall to 22-18.
Gabella said, “You’ve just got to keep going; you’ve got to keep working. They have to trust their abilities. When that happens, then consistency will come.”
The Ems face-off against the Hawks again tonight, in their final game of the three-game series, at PK Park at 7:05 PM.