PASCO — Rock Shoulders name went a long way this season, winning a fan-driven vote for best moniker in minor league baseball.
But it didnt go nearly as far as the ball he hit against Tri-City starter Peter Tago on Saturday at Gesa Stadium.
Boises sturdy first baseman crushed a first-pitch fastball from Tago with the bases loaded in the top of the third to highlight the Hawks 8-2 Northwest League win over the Dust Devils in front of 3,013 fans.
Ive been chasing a lot, but that dude (Tago) throws a lot of fastballs. I was just looking for one I could hit, Shoulders said of his ninth home run of the year, tying him for fourth in the NWL.
The win completed a three-game sweep Boises first on the road since 2004. The Hawks (30-33 overall, 17-8 second half) increased their East Division lead to six games with Yakimas 9-0 loss to Spokane. Tri-City (27-36, 9-16) fell into last place, eight games out of first with 13 left to play.
Shoulders drove the ball to the deepest part of center field, and Tri-City center fielder Kyle Von Tungeln made a valiant chase to the base of the wall before watching it carry over the batters eye for a grand slam.
That was the turning point. We usually dont see players hit the ball that far, Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio said.
That turned a 1-0 game into a 5-0 blowout, and Boise kept pouring it on, adding another run in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Tri-City couldnt find a rhythm offensively against Hawks starter Jose Arias, managing just one hit in five innings against the Dominican native. Arias (4-2) struck out five and allowed just three runners one of them on an infield error to reach base.
They dug us a hole and we couldnt get out of it. One hit through eight innings, and it was a bloop two-strike hit, Ocasio said. Give credit to their pitchers, though.
Tom Murphy provided the only Dust Devils highlight in the ninth inning when he drove a 3-2 pitch off Boise reliever Hayden Simpson over the left center field wall for a two-run home run, his third of the season.
Hawks third baseman Stephen Bruno went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run triple in off Carlos Martinez in in the top of the sixth.
Tago (2-6) watched his ERA rise to 5.34 in suffering his third loss in his last four decisions.
Notes: Tri-City RHP Shane Broyles (4-2, 2.61 ERA) will get the start today as the Dust Devils open a five-game series against the Emeralds at PK Park in Eugene. ... Martinez made his first appearance for Tri-City after a recent promotion from the Colorado Rockies Dominican Summer League team. Martinez, a 5-foot-11 right-hander, threw two innings and allowed two runs on two hits. ... The Dust Devils put two players on the disabled list OF Jarod Berggren and RHP Adam Paulencu
Dust Devils alumni update: OF Charlie Blackmon (2008, 2012) was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday, replacing OF Carlos Gonzalez, who was placed on bereavement leave. Blackmon went to work immediately, going 0-for-1 with a strikeout in a 6-5 home loss to Miami. w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org