Alec Mehrten likes to be aggressive at the plate. And he likes to shoot the ball to right field.
The Tri-City shortstop had a pair of run-scoring hits to right center to lead the Dust Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canadians in Northwest League action at Gesa Stadium.
“When I’m going good, that’s where I’m hitting the ball,” he said. “I was definitely looking first pitch fastball. My strength is to right-center and I got two pitches to hit.”
Mehrten greeted reliever Jon Kountis with a first pitch two-run, two-out single into the right-center gap scoring Michael Benjamin and Patrick Hutcheson in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hutcheson just slid under the tag by Vancouver’s Daniel Klein with the winning run.
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“I was hoping (Kountis) would groove one,” Mehrten said. “I was watching him in warmups and he had a sharp curveball, but he threw that fastball first.”
Mehrten also had a run-scoring triple on the first pitch of his first at bat in the first inning that put the Dust Devils on top 1-0.That run looked like it might hold up all night, as starting pitcher Johendi Jiminian worked in and out of trouble through six strong innings.
In the seventh, though, he couldn’t keep the high-wire act going.
He served up a long home run to Jordan Leyland leading off the seventh to tie the score at 1-1. Brenden Kalfus followed with a double, a walk and a wild pitch later and Klein hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice for a 2-1 Vancouver lead.
Reliever Marc Magliaro then gave up an RBI single to Jorge Vega Rosado to make it 3-1.
“Every pitch was down in the zone the first six innings,” Jiminian said. “In the seventh, I started leaving them up.”Jiminian finished with six strikeouts, allowing three runs on seven hits.
For much of the game he was in a duel with Vancouver starter Jeremy Gabryszwski, who retired 17 in a row before allowing a leadoff walk in the eighth inning.
Gabryszwski still had a chance to escape the eighth with the lead, after a base-running blunder by Mike Tauchman.
Tauchman reached on the walk and Ben Waldrip followed with a long fly to right that the right fielder played into a single. Waldrip was headed to second where he found Tauchman, and was eventually tagged out in a rundown.
Rather than first and second with no outs, the Dust Devils had a runner on third with one out.
“We made a couple of baserunning blunders, but I like that aggressiveness,” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said. “It’s easier to tell them to back off than try to get them going.”
After a groundout and a hit batsman, the Dust Devils had runners on the corners with two outs. Leadoff hitter Patrick Hutcheson hit a ground ball to first, which ate up Leyland and led to a run, setting up Mehrten’s heroics.
It was the second consecutive night the Dust Devils rallied for a victory over the defending league champions.
“Just the energy in the dugout,” Mehrten’s said of the rallies. “We need to not roll over — we have the guys to keep us in the game. So we just have to keep fighting whenever we are down.”
Magliaro got the victory, while Trent Blank earned his second save.
NOTES: The Dust Devils hit the road today, starting an eight-game road trip with three games in Everett. ... Tauchman recorded his first professional hit on a bloop single to left in the second inning. ... Vancouver designated hitter Shaun Valeriote recorded a golden sombrero, striking out in all four at-bats.