Luis Asuncion doubled and scored twice, and the Tri-City Dust Devils clinched their season-opening, five-game series against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes with a 4-3 win Sunday evening at Volcanoes Stadium.
Asuncion, who also stole his second base of the season, is leading the Dust Devils (3-1) with a .438 batting average through the first four games of the season. He’s hit three doubles and homered in the season opener for a .625 slugging percentage.
Eighteen-year-old right hander Henry Henry got the start for the Dust Devils and gave up a run while allowing six runners to reach base — four hits, two hit batsmen.
Daruis Valdez — who threw 56 1/3 innings in the Dominican Summer League last year — earned the win for Tri-City after giving up a triple and a single to the first two batters he faced when he entered in the fifth. Valdez (1-0) went on to pitch four innings, giving up two runs on four hits, but he set down the final seven batters he faced in order, striking out the last three.
The Dust Devils took the lead in the top of the sixth in an inning kicked off by a Boomer White infield single and a Luis Asuncion double. White scored on a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Steve Bean to tie the game at 2-all, then Asuncion came around on a wild pitch by S-K pitcher Luis Pino, who picked up his second blown save, to make it 3-2.
But Salem-Keizer (1-3) answered in the bottom of the inning with leadoff man Christoph Bono singling to center, moving to second on a balk, then taking third on a failed Dust Devils rundown (manager Ben Fritz and pitching coach Josh Spence were ejected arguing the play). Richard Amion, at the plate for both of Bono’s advancements, singled to left to drive in the tying run.
Asuncion scored the eventual winning run in the top of the eighth after leading off the frame with a walk, stealing second and advancing to third when the catcher’s throw went into center field, then coming home on a single up the middle by Kelvin Melean.
Austin Smith, the San Diego Padres second-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, picked up his second career save in the winning effort, giving up a leadoff single in the ninth but setting down the rest of the side in order.
Cuban lefty Osvaldo Hernandez — signed by the Padres for $2.5 million in March — will start for the Dust Devils in the series finale at 5:05 p.m. Monday. Salem-Keizer has yet to announce its starter.
The Dust Devils return home Tuesday for three games each against the Spokane Indians and Everett AquaSox. Start times for all Tri-City home games is 7:15 p.m.