Tri-City Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio stepped out of his office in the Dave Lemak Clubhouse on Wednesday night after the Dust Devils’ 6-5 loss to the Yakima Bears.
He took a few extra seconds to poke some fun at a Hawaiian-style shirt worn by former Tri-City skipper Ron Gideon. He still was able to enjoy a moment of levity in spite of the fact that his team had just fallen three games out of first place in the East Division.
In other words, the Dust Devils are down, but not quite done.
“It was a close game. We made a couple of defensive mistakes, but we battled back and made it a close game,” said Ocasio, a two-time Northwest League manager of the year in 2009 and 2011. “There’s stuff we’ve got to work on, but that’s why they’re here.”
A good-sized Gesa Stadium crowd of 3,140 watched Tri-City take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a double steal that resulted in Matt Argyropoulos coming home.
But Yakima came back with three runs in the top of the fourth after the Bears got four consecutive singles off starter Ben Hughes to tie it at 1 and then a two-run single by Danny Poma to make it 3-1.
Tri-City narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth after Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff double, took third on a single by Argyropoulos and scored on an opposite-field single to right by Francisco Sosa. Sosa led the Dust Devils’ offense, finishing 2-for-4 with a run, an RBI and two stolen bases.
“It’s nice to have a good day, but I’d rather do a good job for the team,” Sosa said. “The only thing we can do is keep working.”
Yakima pulled ahead in the top of the sixth, when Argyropoulos committed his second error of the day at third and the Bears followed with three consecutive hits to make it 5-2. A line-drive double to center by Joe Loftus eluded Blackmon after he got a bad jump on the ball in center field.
“I don’t think he saw the ball,” Ocasio said. “It looked like he was looking for help and then picked it up. By then, it was too late.”
Tri-City made a nice run in the bottom of the eighth to get back in it, scoring three runs to cut the gap to 6-5.
Sosa and Miguel De Leon led off the inning with walks off Yakima reliever Blake Forslund and then executed another double steal. The Dust Devils stole seven bases on the day.
Alec Mehrten drove in Sosa with an RBI groundout to make it 6-3, and then De Leon scored on a wild pitch to cut it to 6-4. Blackmon capped the rally with an RBI bloop single over second baseman Josh Parr.
Hughes (0-2) took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits through five innings. Alex Carreras (3-0) gave up two runs on five hits in five innings to pick up the win for Yakima.
R.J. Hively picked up his first save with 1 1⁄3 scoreless frames.
“We’ve been in every game so far,” Ocasio said.
Notes: Tri-City heads to County Stadium in Yakima today for a three-game series. ... The NWL named its Offensive Player and Pitcher of the Week. The offensive honor goes to Vancouver’s Balbino Fuenmayor, who fell a triple shy of the cycle in a win over Spokane and then went 6-for-10 with seven RBIs in three games against Tri-City. The pitcher of the week is Vancouver reliever Javier Avendano, who struck out 14 batters in nine scoreless innings in two Canadians victories. ... Dust Devils alumni update: LHP Edwar Cabrera (2010) made his first major league start for the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. He allowed five earned runs on five hits over 2 1⁄3 innings in an 11-5 loss. 1B Jordan Ribera (2011-12) went 3-for-5 with a pair of runs, and OF Jared Simon (2010-11) hit his eighth home run of the year for Asheville in the Tourists’ 12-5 loss at Augusta.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org