Christian Friedrich was the marquee name Thursday night at Gesa Stadium.
But Charlie Blackmon stole the show.
Blackmon, the Colorado Rockies’ second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the Dust Devils’ 8-3 win over the Everett AquaSox.
The 6-foot-3 center fielder belted two-run doubles in the second and fourth innings to stake Tri-City to a 6-2 lead, giving Friedrich — a first-round pick out of Eastern Kentucky — plenty of run support in his first professional start.
“It was good to get it out of the way, but I wish it could have been better,” said Friedrich, who allowed two earned runs on two hits in two innings. He threw 44 pitches, but a bit too many of them were out of the strike zone.
“I had great stuff and great movement, but I couldn’t harness it,” he said.
Tri-City (15-8) kept pace with East Division leader Spokane (17-6), which topped Vancouver 8-5.
Blackmon, who is 8-for-14 in his last three games, raised his average above .300 for the first time this season at .302.
His fourth-inning double off AquaSox pitcher Christian Staehely came off the bat like a shot and appeared to be headed over the right-field wall. But a strong wind blowing out to left knocked it down just enough to keep it in the park, and Blackmon chugged into second with a standup double.
“As soon as I hit it, I thought it might be gone, but then I thought how crazy a park this is,” said Blackmon, whose eight doubles tie him with Casey Bond of Salem-Keizer for the Northwest League lead. “That’s when I decided I’d better start running.”
Tri-City pitcher Kenneth Durst (2-2), who stepped out of the starting rotation to accommodate Friedrich, pitched five strong innings of relief, allowing just one run on five hits to pick up the win.
Aaron Brown (0-1) took the loss for Everett, giving up six earned runs on five hits in three-plus innings.
Everett tied the score at 2 in the top of the second, but the Dust Devils responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead.
“(The run support) has been incredible the last couple games,” Friedrich said. “It’s nice to go out and know they’re going to put some runs up for you.” Thomas Field went 2-for-3 with two runs scored for Tri-City and Johnny Bowden drove in the Dust Devils’ first run with a single to left.
Fresno State 2B Erik Wetzel, fresh off the Bulldogs’ College World Series championship over Georgia, has been assigned to Tri-City. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander — a 13th-round draft selection last month — will arrive today and undergo a physical before being cleared to play. ... Georgia 3B Ryan Peisel, a 12th-round pick, passed his physical and could play as early as Saturday. ... Everett cut short its batting practice after a scuffle ensued in the outfield among players shagging balls. No punches were thrown, but manager Jose Moreno delivered an impassioned speech in the Everett clubhouse following the incident. Moreno downplayed the incident after addressing his players. “Nothing happened,” he said. AquaSox outfielder Dennis Raben was batting when the scuffle began and didn’t see what started the fray. “Nothing like that has happened since I’ve been here,” he said.