The news broke before Friday’s game that Tri-City Dust Devils outfielder Mike Tauchman would be added to the North Division roster for the Northwest League All-Star game coming up on Aug. 6 in Everett.
The 6-foot-2 left-hander out of Bradley University took the news in stride and then showed the Eugene Emeralds exactly why he earned the trip, driving in three of the Dust Devils’ six runs in Tri-City’s 6-3 NWL win at Gesa Stadium.
“It was really exciting and a bit of a shock. I was looking forward to three days off, but we’ve got a lot of guys representing our team and I’m happy to be one of them,” Tauchman said. “It’s definitely something cool, but you still have to separate that and focus on the task at hand.
“We should have beaten them last night (in a 4-3 home loss Thursday).”
Friday’s game, played before 2,574 drenched fans in a steady drizzle, allowed Tri-City (5-6 second half, 24-25 overall) to temporarily gain ground on North Division leader Everett (7-3, 30-18), whose home game with Boise was rained out. The Dust Devils evened up their season series with Eugene at four games apiece, and — with a win today — can win their third consecutive five-game series at home.
“It was a ton of fun, in spite of the sloppy conditions, to be able to get ourselves a win,” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said. “That’s part of the team chemistry, which only happens when guys start to trust one another.”
Trae Santos gave the Ems a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, driving in Ronnie Richardson from second with an RBI single to center off Johendi Jiminian.
Eugene starter Tayron Guerrero looked strong in the first two innings, setting down the first six batters he faced. But the Dust Devils answered back in the bottom of the third, as Wilson Soriano hit a one-out single off Guerrero, and Alec Mehrten followed with a hit-and-run single to send Soriano to third. Patrick Hutcheson tied it up with an RBI groundout to first baseman Santos.
After a walk to Chris O’Dowd, Tauchman stepped up and delivered a line-drive double to the gap in right center field, scoring Mehrten and O’Dowd for a 3-1 Tri-City lead. Michael Benjamin then drove in Tauchman with a single to left, making it 4-1.
Benjamin later added an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth. It was his eighth RBI in the last four games. Tauchman reached base for the ninth game in a row after going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs to go with his three RBIs.
Saylor was even impressed when Tauchman wasn’t driving in runs.
“His single to left field was his best swing of the night,” Saylor said. “When he’s able to work that left-center field gap, he’s really able to create.”
Jiminian, another of the five Dust Devils’ all-stars, earned the win with another quality start, allowing just three runs on five hits over six innings. His ERA went up 20 points to 2.88 but he owns a 1.69 ERA over his last five starts.
Troy Neiman tossed two scoreless innings before Trent Daniel earned his NWL-leading 12th save. Daniel, another NWL all-star along with pitcher Ryan Warner, outfielder Sean Dwyer and shortstop Alec Mehrten, has yet to allow a run in 14 2/3 innings.
Notes: Today’s starters are RHP Ryan Warner (2-2, 3.31 ERA) for Tri-City and RHP Bryan Verbitsky (0-3, 2.45) for Eugene. ... Nine lucky fans had a chance to win $10,000 Friday night provided a Dust Devils player hit a grand slam in their designated inning. Mother Nature wasn’t paying off, however, as a strong wind blowing in from left field and a constant rain dampened chances of a longball.