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Exploding Whales Allow Nine Unanswered in 10-5 Loss to Tri-City

Eugene Emeralds

May 11, 2024 – Northwest League (NWL)
Eugene Emeralds News Release

EUGENE, OR – The Eugene Exploding Whales have an issue.

The whole thing is equally incredible and mysterious. The Whales are dealing with a dilemma for which there is no handbook, a problem for which there is no precedent, all of it fueled by a 22-year-old who has stolen the show all homestand.

Thomas Gavello is red-hot.

His three-run blast exploded – get it – off the foul pole in right, giving Eugene a mid-game lead.

But it wasn’t enough, not on a night when Eugene’s (19-12) bullpen was as poor as it was.

Tri-City (13-18) would answer with nine unanswered, defeating the Exploding Whales 10-5.

The blast was enough to take the early lead made possible by Jack Choate’s outing. The southpaw – although allowing a solo shot to Ben Gobbel nine pitches into his day – settled down nicely despite command issues.

Working through his struggles with locating his primary pitches, Choate’s arduous day ended well. He struck out eight over four innings on a night where he had his best stuff, but not his best command.

The Whales equalized the early blast in the second as a pair of hard-hit knocks comically led to Justin Bench driving home a run on a swinging bunt.

As has been the trend of late, hard contact was lacking, meaning the Whales would have to rely on the random luck of baseball.

Or the random domination of a 2022 draft pick from Antioch, California.

Alex Suarez and Diego Velasquez added back-to-back singles bringing up Gavello whose blast was seemingly willed fair by a crowd of 3,907.

The liner hit square off the foul pole, turning PK Park into bedlam.

Gavello’s run is only made more impressive by his stumble out of the gate. He had just five hits over his first 36 at-bats, and now despite hitting five times over his last 10 tries, his average still rests below .200.

The blast wasn’t nearly enough.

Matt Mikulski’s already sky-high 5.56 ERA rose to 7.43 as he – after firing a scoreless fifth – allowed sixth straight batters to reach base in the sixth. Kevin Bruggerman’s mammoth shot to left unloaded the bases in grand fashion.

Mikulski’s outing was bad – the rest of the game was worse.

Ben Madison walked three and allowed four more of his own. His inning spanned nearly 30 minutes and was equally painful for the players. He plunked a batter with the bases loaded before allowing a bloop single to left where Tanner O’Tremba’s sprawling dive came up empty.

While Tri-City’s offense was heating up, Eugene…

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