Two announcements before we get to the great news. First, the Cubs announced their “official” Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August and they’re the same two players you chose, Emeralds outfielder Nelson Velazquez and Pelicans pitcher Cory Abbott! So congratulations to both of them again.
You also voted for your choice for the Minor League Player of the Year and it’s Iowa Cubs/Tennessee Smokies third baseman Jason Vosler! Vosler led the Cubs minor leagues in home runs by a pretty wide margin with 23, so he was certainly a worthy choice. Here’s hoping he hits some of those in the majors next season.
I’ll announce the winner of the Minor League Pitcher of the Year voting when the Emeralds play their next playoff game on Saturday. Because they’re going to have another playoff game.
David downed Goliath tonight as the Eugene Emeralds beat the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks), 3-2. That was the same score that the Ems won by on Wednesday, which means that the Emeralds won the best-of-three series two games to none.
This game got off to a poor start and like game one, the Ems fell behind early. Eugene starter Faustino Carrera gave up a double to the first hitter of the game and the next one singled to put runners on the corners. But the Hops could only get one run in the first inning after a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, the Ems could do nothing against Hops starter Matt Mercer, who retired all 12 batters he faced. Mercer exited after four innings (the 5th-round pick had never pitched more than four innings as a professional) and then reliever Jackson Goddard retired the Ems in order in the fifth.
With one out in the sixth inning, catcher Caleb Knight broke up the perfect game with a weak infield grounder that went for an infield hit. If that seemed like a cheap way to break up a perfect game, the next batter up, shortstop Luis Vazquez, hit a clean line-drive single to right.
With one out, Knight and Vazquez pulled off a successful double steal on a strikeout. Outfielder Nelson Velazquez then hit a ground ball up the middle that shortstop Geraldo Perdomo fielded, but he made a poor throw to first base. Both runners scored on the play and the Emeralds had a 2-1 lead. The play was ruled a hit and an error.
DH Luke Reynolds then doubled home Velazquez to make it 3-1.
The Emeralds did not have a baserunner in the entire game outside of the sixth inning.
Carrera was still on the mound to start the bottom of the sixth, but he gave up a single and a walk. With one out in the inning, Carrera exited for reliever Fauris Guerrero. Both runners moved up a base after a passed ball and a run then scored on a ground out. After Guerrero walked a batter to put runners on the corners with two outs, he got a strikeout to end the inning.
Sean Berry came on to pitch in the seventh inning and he retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth inning. After striking out the first batter in the ninth, Berry allowed an infield single and then a double to put the tying run on third and the potential winning run on second with only one out.
Berry then left the game for Riley McCauley. With the game and the series on the line, McCauley struck out Jorge Perez and then got Jake McCarthy to hit an infield pop up to win the game and end the Hops season.
Carrera got the win after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits. He walked two, hit one batter and struck out five.
Berry struck out five in 2.1 innings. He gave up those two hits.
I’ve already recapped every baserunner the Ems had.
For the third year in a row, the Emerald have beaten the Hops in the first round of the Northwest League Playoffs.
Again, the Emeralds finished the regular season with the worst record in the Northwest League of 31-45. The Hops had the best record in the league at 51-25. Their .671 winning percentage was the best of any minor league club above rookie ball.
The Emeralds will now take on the winner of the series between the Everett AquaSox and the Spokane Indians in a best-of-five championship series. The series between Everett and Spokane is currently tied at one game apiece. If Spokane wins, the Emeralds will host all five games (if necessary) of the championship series as the Indians’ home stadium is not available.
UPDATE: The Indians beat the AquaSox 5-4 to win the series two games to one. The series will start on Sunday at Eugene and all games of the best-of-five series will be in Eugene as the Indians’ stadium is unavailable due to the Interstate Fair.