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TJs unravel in 9th inning of 5-4 defeat

EUGENE ­ The Southern Oregon Timberjacks let one slip away Tuesdaynight.

Looking for their third straight victory against the Eugene Emeralds,the Timberjacks fell apart in the bottom of the ninth inning, allowing fourruns in a 5-4 loss before 2,557 fans at Civic Stadium.

Southern Oregon starting pitcher Randy Niles and reliever Luis Vizcainokept the Emeralds in check through eight innings, holding Eugene to onerun on six hits.

But that all changed in a hurry.

Vizcaino walked John Arnold to start the ninth before Southern Oregonmanager John Kuehl called in Oscar Abreu from the bullpen. He surrenderedan infield hit to Greg Strickland and then walked Al Castro to load thebases before exiting.

Elvin Nina (0-1) entered and catcher Jose Figueroa immediately alloweda passed ball, letting Arnold score. Collin Wissen then singled home Strickland,making it 4-3.

It went from bad to worse when Pooh Hines grounded to third baseman AdamPiatt, who tried to start a double play by throwing to second base. Buthis throw sailed into right field, allowing Castro to tie it. After an intentionalwalk, Jeff Spencer lofted an 0-2 pitch to deep center field for a sacrificefly that sent Wissen home with the winning run.

Piatt continued his torrid hitting with a 3-for-4 performance, includinghis eighth home run to lead off the fourth inning. He also doubled homea run in the sixth inning.

Despite the loss, the Timberjacks (14-13) remained one game out of firstplace when Salem-Keizer defeated front-running Portland, 7-3.