LIVE BLOG: Dust Devils, Game 50 vs. Yakima Bears

Jack Millikin, Herald staff writerAugust 5, 2012 

It's a hot one today — about 94 degrees according to weather.com — but it certainly feels like about 100 up here in the press box.

Some of the players are still wearing their underarmour, which is crazy on a day like this. Then again, some players are from areas a lot hotter than this.

Get ready for a good one on the field. It's RHP T.J. Oakes (0-1, 4.59 ERA) going for the Tri-City Dust Devils, still looking for his first professional victory. He'll go up against RHP Austin Platt (0-1, 27.00) for Yakima.

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Heard a good line from my compadre up here in the press box, Matt Pignataro, a minor league video coordinator for the Colorado Rockies. He said he was down on the field during the team's pre-game warmups and asked trainer Andy Stover if he had to ice Dust Devils manager Freddie Ocasio's arm after last night's 9-4 win over the Bears. Freddie waved quite a few guys around third for sure.

Matt's kind of a jack-of-all-trades for the Dust Devils. He gets paid to videotape and chart each pitch during the game so the organization can see how any player performed in certain situations — how hitters fared against changeups or fastballs, or how a pitcher might react to certain counts. But the Spokane native does a lot more that that for the team.

A former catcher at Mt. Spokane, Matt gets put to work during team practices, doing anything from hitting fungoes to outfielders to playing first during infield drills. The one thing he won't do, ironically, is catch bullpen sessions. He doesn't get paid enough to handle the wicked breaking stuff the pitchers throw at this level.

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The Dust Devils continue to ride the offensive groove with two runs in the bottom of the second.

Yakima got a run in the first inning — Josh Parr scored from second on a fielding error by Miguel De Leon to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

But Tri-City came right back. Francisco Sosa singles to lead off the inning and takes second on a walk to Derek Jones. Things looked bleak after De Leon hit into a double play, but Anthony Aguilera rekindled the rally with a long double to the wall in center field to score Sosa. Zach Osborne followed that with an opposite field single, blooping a 2-2 pitch into right field to score Jones.

Tri-City leads 2-1.

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Joe Loftus ties the score for Yakima, launching a 2-0 fastball over the left-field wall off Oakes. I wasn't sure it was going to get out of here. It was a low line drive, the kind that usually gets knocked down by the thick desert air, but he hit it hard enough to break through any quagmire.

That's his third of the year.

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Dust Devils catcher Tom Murphy came into the game carrying a 15-game hitting streak, and just singled to center to extend it to 16. He's also reached base in 20 consecutive games.

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Tri-City takes a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out against Platt. De Leon hit a routine grounder to shortstop Josh Parr, who booted the ball on the short hop, allowing Murphy to score the go-ahead run.

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Tri-City is on the verge of NWL history for the second time this series. During a 6-2 loss to Yakima on Friday, the Dust Devils allowed five triples, which tied the league record set by Walla Walla in a game against Portland on July 16, 1975.

Tonight, Tri-City has hit into five double plays, one short of the NWL record set by two teams — Bend (vs. Medford on Aug. 30, 1987) and Salem-Keizer (vs. Yakima on July 19, 2005). I doubt, however, that these teams set the record with double plays in consecutive innings, as the Dust Devils have.

After Tri-City hit into double plays in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Kyle Von Tungeln came up with one out and a runner on first in the seventh hit a grounder to second baseman Jimmy Comerota, who flipped the ball to shortstop Parr to get the force at second. But Von Tungeln beat Parr's throw to first by a split second to deny the Bears the record.

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Dust Devils hold on for 3-2 victory.

Ryan Arrowood strikes out five of the six batters he faced and closer Seth Willoughby allows a one-out single before making a fantastic defensive play for the second out. Jimmy Comerota lined an 0-2 pitch right back at his head, but Willoughby knocked it down with his glove and threw Comerota out at first. Then Willoughby struck out Mark Ginther, who hit a three-run homer yesterday, to end the game.

An impressive win by Tri-City and a sign of maturity, since Yakima beat Tri-City in five of six games in the first half.

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