Saturday, August 9, 2008

Eugene Emeralds 11, Everett Aqua Sox 6

August 2, 2008

Civic Stadium in Eu
gene, Oregon opened in 1938, hosting its first athletic event that fall: the annual high school football rivalry between Eugene and Corvallis. According to Wikipedia, Civic Stadium began hosting minor league baseball when Eugene landed a Pacific Coast League team in 1969, and is the eighth oldest ballpark in the United States that still hosts professional baseball. The same article also notes that the park has been declared surplus property by its owner, the Eugene School District, and that there's some local chatter about building a new ballpark that the Emeralds would share with the University of Oregon.

That would be a pity. Civic Stadium is a marvelous, rickety old yard with a wooden grandstand. The super duper premium seats, priced at $9, are comfortable wide stadium chairs, cup holders included. Don't give us another "luxury box" monstrosity!

The ballpark was clearly built for football. The stands on the first base side of the diamond stretch most of the way out to the right field fence. The short leg of the "L" on the right-field side doesn't get all the way to third base. They've tacked some extra bleachers and a picnic area down that side. (The photo above was snapped from the very far end of the third base grandstand.) There are a half dozen or so entryways from the outer concourse into the grandstand.

The Emeralds have a number of "inflatable" mascots. Pictured here are "Spitball" and
"Catch." Also spotted around the park from time to time were "Slugger" -- a musclebound hulk who often lost his head and whose pants would fall down to reveal polka-dot underwear (between that and Spitball's ample tongue, there was lots of eroticism at the ballpark!) -- and "Louis" who is, of course, an inflatable bat. The mascots did some entertaining routines, including a dance number with a fake umpire and a startling scene in which Catch devoured a young fan, then spit him back out... sans shirt. We're not sure the kid was actually expecting that. Mercifully, there were no between-innings promotions in which stuff was thrown or propelled at the fans, nor was there a constantly hollering huckster announcer.

My one beef with the ballpark experience was parking. We got to the yard a good hour before game time, and the stadium lot was full. A grass lot across the street was filled with ruts that rivaled the grand canyon; our Acura TL is NOT an off-road vehicle!

The game
The contest started off as a crisp, well-played affair, knotted at 0-0 until the homestanding Eugene Emeralds broke through for two runs in the fourth on a two-out, two-run single by catcher Logan Gelbrich. The Everett Aqua Sox got a run in the fifth on Wellington Dotel's sacrifice fly. Bobby Verbick hit a two-run homer for Eugene in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-1. The Aqua Sox tied it with three in the sixth, one on a home run by Dennis Raben, and took the lead with a run in the seventh on doubles by Raben and Nate Tenbrink.

The wheels fell off for Everett in the eighth, when Eugene sent 13 men to the plate and scored seven runs, with the help of two errors, four walks, and a wild pitch. Eugene won 11-6 and could have had a lot more. The Ems left the bases loaded in the eighth and the sixth, left runners on second and third in the seventh, and stranded 13 runners in all.

Player of the game
It's unusual to have the starting pitcher named player of the game in an 11-6 contest, but Eugene starter Nick Vincent gets the nod. Vincent worked five innings, allowed one run on three hits. He fanned nine while walking only one. It's hard to find a bright spot for the Aqua Sox, who issued 10 walks. Leadoff man Tyson Gillies showed great range in center field and chased down several gappers beautifully. He was, however, 0-for-5 with a golden sombrero -- four Ks -- at the dish.

Box score


Sweetie the Scorer said...
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Sweetie the Scorer said...

I'm usually too busy scoring to pay any attention to between-inning nonsense (BIN). I expect to leave this world getting beaned by a tchotchke while totaling R, H, E, LOB and the ball/strike ratio. but I gotta admit, these goofy mascots had some pretty funny routines. They did put me in mind of the weiner at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. This was an enormous hydraulic hot dog that ejected wadded up tshirts into the stands. Really. They haven't had it there in years. I always wondered if someone complained. All time favorite BIN, though, remains the Tacoma Rainiers' routine: A little tiny kid in an oversized batting helmet runs the bases to sweep them off and then sweeps off the umpire's shoes. SO cute.