Dust Devils' bats provide fireworks

By Jack Millikin, Herald staff writerJuly 4, 2009 

A franchise-record crowd of 3,796 came out to Gesa Stadium on Friday to see a fireworks show.

The Tri-City Dust Devils provided plenty of them, courtesy of the Northwest League's most incendiary bats, in a 12-0 win over the Boise Hawks.

The Dust Devils -- who lead all NWL teams in batting, runs scored and stolen bases -- unloaded on six Hawks pitchers with 10 hits. But Boise's pitching staff didn't do much to keep the score down by hitting three batters and walking 10.

But perhaps the most impressive effort came from Dust Devils starting pitcher Dan Perkins and reliever Kyle Walker, who combined on a three-hit shutout and gave an overworked bullpen a good night's rest.

"We got exactly what we needed from them," said Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio. "It's hard to finish with just two pitchers in this league. Our bullpen has been doing an outstanding job, but now we can go to Salem-Keizer well-rested."

Tri-City (12-2) continued its best start in franchise history and holds a five-game lead in the East Division over second-place Yakima (7-7). The Dust Devils also remained undefeated in nine games against East opponents.

Perkins (1-0) allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out seven in five innings to collect the first win by a Dust Devils starter this year. The 27th-round draft pick out of Delaware State gave up a leadoff single to Jae-Hoon Ha in the second inning, then retired the next 11 batters.

"I felt good on the mound. I had good control of a lot of pitches," said Perkins, who used mostly fastballs and mixed in a change and a curve for good measure.

Walker came on in the sixth and set down the first eight batters he faced. He lowered his ERA to 0.71, allowing just one hit over four innings to notch his second save.

Offensively, the biggest production came from one of the Dust Devils' smallest players, second baseman Alex Feinberg. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder from Orinda, Calif., came into the game hitting just .067 with three RBIs. But he reached base in all five trips to the plate and finished 2-for-2 with two runs and a career-high four RBIs.

"One thing to remember when you're not hitting is to focus on your approach," said Feinberg, who hit .304 at Casper (Wyo.) last season. "Baseball's a game where anybody on a given night can be the best and anybody can be the worst."

On this night, the best came from Feinberg.

"Feinberg's a guy who is going to be a utility player, and today he took advantage of it," Ocasio said. "When you're not an everyday player you need to make the most of your chances, and he did that."

Scott Beerer returned to the lineup after a six-game absence and picked up where he left off, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs. Leonardo Reyes also went 2-for-3 with a three-run double with two outs in the sixth.

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