Dust Devils stay hot, top Hops 4-1

July 14, 2013 

Coming off a season-high 15 runs and 14 hits in a win over Hillsboro on Saturday, the Tri-City Dust Devils couldn’t wait to get back on the field for the home finale at Gesa Stadium.

But for the better part of six innings Sunday, the Dust Devils couldn’t muster a single hit, let alone a run, against Hops’ starter Jose Martinez in a 4-1 win over Hillsboro.

Luckily, Michael Benjamin had the wisdom to save at least one good knock in his bat for the next day. The 13th-round draft pick out of Arizona State came up to the plate with Tri-City trailing 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and hit a bases-loaded double off reliever Daniel Gibson to put the Dust Devils ahead 3-1.

Wilson Soriano then drove in Benjamin with a single between short and third for the three-run lead. Tri-City held on for victory, its eighth in the last 10 games and fourth of five.

Martinez pitched 51⁄3 innings of no-hit ball before being replaced by Daniel Gibson, but he set the table for the Dust Devils in the sixth, walking Patrick Valaika and Alec Mehrten to lead off the inning. Martinez then hit Julian Yan with one out to load the bases.

Gibson came in to try to keep his starter out of trouble but was met by Benjamin, who lined a first-pitch fastball down the line in left field.

“We definitely got off to a slow start. The kid (Martinez) was throwing really well. Fortunately, he walked some guys, and we were able to take advantage,” Benjamin said. “I was looking for something to drive. It was definitely nice to get some runs up there, especially when things were moving slow.”

Martinez (1-2) took the loss despite not allowing a hit. He did, however, chalk up three earned runs after walking five batters and hitting two more.

Tri-City’s work was not done, however. Dust Devils’ closer Trent Daniel came in for the top of the ninth inning needing to shut down Hillsboro’s Nos. 8-9-1 hitters.

Daniel walked pinch hitter George Roberts to lead off the frame but got Ryan Gebhardt to ground out to second base, moving Roberts to second. That’s where Daniel got into some trouble, walking the next two batters — Josh Parr and pinch hitter Grant Nelson — to load the bases.

But Daniel settled in and struck out Yogey Perez-Ramos and Zach Esquerra to earn his NWL-leading fifth save.

“He went out and and continued to compete. He handled adversity well,” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said. “It’s always good to see a guy continue to fight.”

Daniel isn’t known for a blazing fastball, but he got Esquerra to swing at a nasty slider for strike two and then got him to swing through a high changeup to end the game.

Konner Wade put in a solid start for Tri-City, allowing the Hops’ only run on six hits through five innings. Wade, at 0-3, is still looking for his first professional victory.

Shane Broyles (2-0) picked up the win for the Dust Devils, tossing three scoreless innings to keep his ERA at 0.00 through 10 innings with Tri-City.

Notes: Sean Dwyer had the defensive play of the night, leaning over the field-level seats down the first base side to haul in Elvin Soto’s eighth-inning pop-up. ... The Dust Devils’ 15-run effort Saturday fell short of the team record for runs in a home game. That record came in a 16-4 win over the Spokane Indians on July 11, 2005. Jack Millikin; 582-1406; jmillikin@tricityherald.com

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