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Knight's Late Knock Hands Ems Fourth Straight Win

June 22, 2019 - Northwest League (NWL) - Eugene Emeralds News Release

Strong starting pitching and clutch, late-inning hitting helped the Eugene Emeralds (5-3) net their fourth win in a row on Friday night behind a 5-3 victory over the Tri-City Dust Devils (3-5) in the first game of a four-game series at PK Park.

Fresh off a series win in the team's lone regular season trip to Vancouver, the Ems returned to PK Park winners of three-straight after dropping two-of-three in the team's season-opening series at PK Park against the Hillsboro Hops.

After a scoreless first inning between both sides, Danny Zardon led off the bottom of the second with a double on a sharp line drive to center field, Zardon's second double of the season. Brandon Vicens immediately followed with a single to put runners on the corners before Luis Diaz delivered his first hit of the season, and a timely one at that. Diaz doubled to deep center field to easily score Zardon and give the Emeralds a 1-0 lead.

One batter later, Rafael Mejia continued the onslaught with an RBI single scoring both Vicens and Diaz to put the Emeralds up 3-0 after just two innings.

Emeralds starting pitcher Kohl Franklin did all he could to keep that three-run lead intact. Taking the mound for the second time this season, the 19-year old right-hander tossed a career-high 4.0 innings while allowing just 4 hits and no walks along with 8 strikeouts, also a career-high.

However, the Dust Devils began to chip away at the Ems' lead in the fifth. With Jack Stronach on third base after reaching via a fielding error from Emeralds first baseman Rafael Mejia earlier in the inning, a Matthew Acosta groundout allowed Stronach to scamper home scoring Tri-City's first run of the game.

In the seventh inning, errors once again cost the Ems. With Dust Devil runners on first and second base and nobody out, an errant throw to first base by Emeralds pitcher Blake Whitney on a soft bunt back to the mound led to both base runners scoring to tie the game at 3-3.

Despite the setback in the top half of the inning, the 3-3 tie proved to be short-lived. In the bottom half of the seventh, Emeralds catcher Caleb Knight, a returner from last year's NWL title-winning team, smoked a solo shot over the left field fence to quickly put the Emeralds back in front, 4-3. The blast was Knight's first homer of the season and second in his Emeralds career.

One inning later, the Ems added some insurance when Dalton Hurd smacked a soaring ground rule double to right field, skipping over the short porch and into the Emeralds bullpen to score Luis Diaz, who had earlier reached safely on to his second hit of the game.

Casey Ryan proved more than capable of handling the three-run lead. Taking the mound for the second time this season, the third-year Emeralds veteran showcased plenty of poise as he struck out three of the six batters he faced over the final two innings to convert the save (1) and wrap a 5-3 win for the Emeralds.

Emeralds pitcher Blake Whitney (1-0) got the win in relief, his first win of the season, tossing 3.0 innings while allowing 3 runs (1 earned) along with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. All told, eight of the nine Emeralds in the starting lineup netted at least one hit on the evening.

The Emeralds and Dust Devils continue their four-game series on Saturday at 7:05pm at PK Park. Saturday marks PRIDE Night at PK Park, presented by Kendall Auto Group, Ninkasi Brewing Company, KMTR NBC 16, and the Bier Stein. The Emeralds will be wearing specially-designed PRIDE uniforms to celebrate the Eugene/Springfield LGBTQ+ community and nationally-recognized LGBTQ+ activist Candace Gingrich will be in attendance holding a fan Q&A session starting at approximately 5:15pm.

You can find the full promotional schedule for the 2019 Eugene Emeralds season by visiting

Tickets to Emeralds home games are on sale now at or by calling (541) 342-5367.

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