The Tri-City Dust Devils accomplished what they wanted to early, knocking in a few early runs off one of the Northwest League’s top arms.
But the Vancouver Canadians finally got what they wanted, too — a big inning and a big day to right the ship after three consecutive losses at Gesa Stadium.
Trailing 3-1 after four innings, the Canadians scored five runs on five hits in the top of the fifth to fuel a 10-4 NWL win in front of 2,723 fans Friday. Vancouver finished with a season-high 17 hits.
The Dust Devils started strong against Taylor Cole, who had allowed just one earned run in 35 innings this season. Leadoff man Kyle Von Tungeln reached on an infield single, and Rosell Herrera walked to set things up for Tom Murphy, who is enjoying one of the best seasons ever by a Tri-City catcher.
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Murphy drove a 1-2 pitch from Cole back up the middle to bring in Von Tungeln and give the Dust Devils a 1-0 lead. He also extended his hitting streak to 20 games, which is three short of the Colorado Rockies’ short-season of 23, held by former Dust Devils outfielder Charlie Blackmon in 2008.
The NWL record for longest hitting streak is 26 games, shared by Tri-City’s Gary Johnson in 1972 and Medford’s Anthony Laurenzi in 1982.
Francisco Sosa followed Murphy’s hit with one of his own, an RBI single that sent Murphy to third and plated Herrera to make it 2-0.
But Sosa got thrown out by left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. trying to stretch it into a double. Matt Argyropoulos smashed a long sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Murphy.
“We made some mistakes there, too. If Sosa doesn’t run into an out, we could have extended the inning and got (Cole) out of there sooner,” Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio said. “We’ve been beating up on their bullpen pretty good.”
Tri-City (8-9 second half) fell four games behind first-place Boise (12-5) in the East Division standings. Vancouver (11-7) maintained a six-game lead in the West Divison.
Cole settled down after the first-inning outburst, giving up a run on four hits through the next five innings. He got the win to improve to 4-0.
Fortunes began to change for Tri-City in the top of the fifth, when Carlos Ramirez led off the frame by reaching on a fielding error by Herrera at shortstop. That set the tone for a five-run rally during which the C’s took advantage of several breaks that extended the inning, including a high-chopper by Daniel Arcila that came down too late for Argyropoulos to make a play at first.
The inning also included a pair of flyballs in left field that Sosa lost in the twilight above Gesa Stadium. The first — a foul ball by Jorge Flores that landed in foul territory — kept Flores alive for an RBI single that put Vancouver ahead 4-3.
The second — a blooper from Art Charles that dropped inside the left field line — set up another run-scoring opportunity for the Canadians.
With runners on second and third, Jason Leblebijian drove a long flyball to the deepest part of center field. Von Tungeln had trouble reading the ball but made the catch. Kellen Sweeney scored easily from third, but Flores took a chance on a weak throw from Von Tungeln and scored from second.
“You have to give credit to (Flores) on that. He made a good play,” Ocasio said.
Oakes (1-2) lasted five innings but allowed six runs — three unearned — on a season-high 17 hits by the Canadians.
“He threw a bunch of ground balls, and a couple of them went through. He did a good job,” Ocasio said.
Notes: The Dust Devils will start a five-game series against the Emeralds at PK Park at 7 p.m. today in Eugene. Probable starters will be LHP Roberto Padilla (2-2, 1.61 ERA) for Tri-City and RHP Will Scott (2-3, 4.58). ...
Dust Devils alumni update: 1B Jordan Ribera (2011-12) went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and two RBIs to lift the Asheville Tourists to a 4-1 South Atlantic League road win against the Hickory Crawdads. ... RHP Josh Sullivan (2005-06, 2008, 2010) tossed 11⁄3 scoreless innings to close out the Tulsa Drillers’ 4-3 Texas League win over visiting Frisco Roughriders. 1B Ben Paulsen (2009) drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly.