It was about this time last season that Jordan Ribera began to hit his stride, collecting his first three-hit game in his sixth game as a professional.
The second-year first-baseman out of Fresno, Calif., is right on schedule once again in the fifth game of his sophomore campaign, going 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs to lift the Tri-City Dust Devils to a 6-0 win Tuesday at Gesa Stadium.
“I was a little bit antsy the first couple days. I really wanted to settle down and get into a streak, so I was taking more borderline pitches and attacking strikes,” said Ribera, who led the Northwest League in RBIs and was tied for third in home runs last season before an injury cut his season short.
After Tuesday’s performance, he’s back to hitting .300 and back among the NWL leaders with four RBIs.
“Obviously, I have very high expectations for myself. I need to be driving in runs for this team,” Ribera said.
The 6-foot left-hander scored the team’s first run in the fourth after a leadoff single. Everett starter Jose Valdivia then hit the next two batters to load the bases before Matt Argyropoulos hit into a double play, scoring Ribera for a 1-0 lead.
Ribera added an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth and a two-run double in the eighth to make it 5-0. Anthony Aguilera, who went 2-for-2 to raise his average to .444, added an RBI single to bring in Ribera to make it 6-0.
“That’s what was missing through the first four games. Pitchers are usually ahead of hitters this early in the season, but we’re starting to come through with runners on base,” said Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio. “You don’t want to lose 4-of-5 to start the season, so this was a good game for us. Our pitchers did a good job.”
Ryan Arrowood, the Colorado Rockies 28th-round draft pick out of Appalachian State, made his first pro start for Tri-City. After walking the leadoff batter in the first, Arrowood turned his first game into a memorable one, retiring the next seven batters in order.
The 6-3 right-hander didn’t get the win, but he definitely made an impression on his teammates as well as the Everett lineup. He threw just under his allotted limit of 60 pitches, allowing no runs on just one hit and one walk.
“I was a little nervous to start, but once I started warming up, it was just another game,” Arrowood said. “With that first walk, I was trying to hit the corners too much, but after that I started to pound the strike zone.”
After Arrowood left, reliver Chris Dennis (1-0) continued the solid pitching with three scoreless innings to pick up the win and lower his ERA to 1.35. Brook Hart earned his first save with two scoreless innings, getting some help from an eighth-inning double play after a leadoff single by Michael Faulkner.
Valdivia took the loss despite allowing just one run on four hits over four innings.
“Everybody has had a chance to play, and we’re jelling so well together. Guys are just going out and competing,” Ribera said. “It’s early, but I feel like we can beat anybody.”
Notes: Tri-City opens a five-day road trip today in Vancouver, which beat Tri-City in the NWL championship series last season 2 games to 1. LHP Roberto Padilla (0-1, 1.59 ERA) will ge the start for the Dust Devils, and RHP Eric Brown (0-0, 0.00) will go for the Canadians. ... Tri-City C Tom Murphy, a third-round pick out of the University of Buffalo, made a painful debut, twice getting hit by a pitch. ... Tuesday marked Ocasio’s 234th career managerial victory with Tri-City and also the 16th birthday of his son Angel, who — along with his brother Leo — is traveling with the team. ... The Yakima Bears appear to be officially done in Yakima. During an online chat Tuesday, Hillsboro (Ore.) Mayor Jerry Willey announced that the Yakima Bears have agreed to the city’s 20-year term sheet, which was approved unanimously by the Hillsboro city council on June 5 and by the NWL on June 8. A new lease agreement will be unveiled and be up for approval on June 26.