Ryan Murphy, Ems Toy with Hops 11-6.
Ryan Murphy and the Eugene Emeralds carried a lead almost throughout the game. It may have seemed close but it really wasn’t. Whenever the Hops would inch close, the Ems jumped a couple of feet ahead. The Ems take the fifth game of the series 11-6.
Ryan Murphy Recently Promoted
The game was full of offense but the story centered on starting pitcher Ryan Murphy. Recently promoted to the Emeralds a couple of weeks ago, he has hit the ground running. Mastering a 1.04 ERA, Murphy held the Hops to two runs in the first seven innings on three hits. And, only one of them had serious contact with a bat. Spencer Brickhouse’s ground rule double leaped over the fence like there was a pile of candy on the other side.
The other two had some luck with it. AJ Vukovich’s RBI single in the first blooped over first baseman Logan Wyatt and dropped in the Bermuda Triangle between Wyatt, second baseman Carter Aldrete and right fielder Franklin Labour. The other lucky hit was Tristin English’s double in the sixth. Center fielder Kwan Adkins lost the high fly ball above the lights and the ball dropped to his left and behind for a base hit.
For the record, the sixth inning seems to be another Bermuda Triangle. Especially for visiting teams who aren’t used to the optics of the setting sun and the overhead lights. Trying to track the flight of the ball is, at best, a struggle.
Ryan Murphy Settles Down
Even with those two gifted hits, Murphy sailed through seven innings after he got over a rough start. The Ems had taken an early lead in the top of the first when Sean Roby doubled and scored off of Wyatt’s RBI single. But, the Hops answered back for their only lead of the game when they scored two runs to tie the game and take the lead.
After that, the Hops didn’t score again until the eighth inning. Meanwhile, the Ems tied the game in the second when Carter Aldrete doubled and scored. The Ems took the lead in the third as Armani Smith singled and scored on a Justin Vernia wild pitch.
Bad Luck and Misfortune
But, the game did not start easy for Eugene. In the first inning, Franklin Labour bounced a foul ball off his left foot leading him to do a few dance moves around the batter’s box. To his surprise, home plate umpire Kevin Mandzuk called a fair ball and third baseman AJ Vukovich threw him out at first.
It got worse in the second inning. Heath Quinn took a called third strike. Expecting to get another pitch when he heard Mandzuk call him out on strikes, he turned and started arguing. Mandzuk took it for a few moments but when Quinn would not let it drop, he ejected Quinn from the game. Manager Dennis Pelfrey came out of the dugout and took Heath’s place in the argument. Even though the ball did look outside, Pelfrey would not let it go so he too was ejected. Granted that was not a case of bad luck but it did seem to add to the misfortune and struggle of the Ems.
Both Teams Uncork Against the Bullpen
By the time the eighth inning arrived, any memories became forgotten (at least temporarily). Both starters had retired for the night and the game was in the hands of the bullpen. The Ems started off the eighth with a four run inning that contained a three-run homer by Robert Emery, a solo shot by Tyler Fitgerald and a triple by Labour.
The Hops repaid in kind with a four-run inning of their own. Theirs included a three-run shot by Andy Yerzy. But, every time the Hops got closer, the Ems got farther away. The Ems scored three more runs in the ninth with eight men sent to the plate. All the Hops could muster in the ninth for their answer were two strikeouts and a fly out to right field.
The win helped the Eugene Emeralds (51-38) gain a game on Everett who lost tonight. They are now four games out of first place. The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (42-46) to eight and a half games behind Eugene with a little over five weeks left to play. The Hops also lost ground on Spokane for third place and sit two full games behind.
Both teams meet for the sixth and final time this week on Sunday. With the Hops leading the six game series 3-2, the Hops have a chance to pull a winning week out of it with a win. The Hops and Spokane are the hottest teams in the league right now going 7-3 in their last ten games.
The Ems have a chance to split the series with their win. Their last win a couple of days ago, Tyler Fitzgerald hit a grand slam in extra innings. In tonight’s game, the team scored seven runs at the end. The Ems have shown they have the power to get it done.
The game starts at 1:05 PM. If you can’t make it, you can watch the game on MiLB.tv, listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. You can find my Twitter handle below.