Hunter Renfroe may have been cheated out of a home run Sunday at Gesa Stadium, but the San Diego Padres’ first-round draft pick made sure the Eugene Emeralds didn’t get denied a win during the Ems’ 6-1 Northwest League win over the Tri-City Dust Devils.
Renfroe, who was recently added to the NWL All-Star team, went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI as Eugene (7-6 second half, 20-31 overall) moved into a tie for first place in the South Division with first-half champion Salem-Keizer (7-6, 30-21).
The 13th overall pick out of Mississippi State hammered a 1-0 pitch from Tri-City starter Konner Wade deep over the left-center field wall, but was called out when he passed teammate Anthony Torres just before reaching second base.
“I had my head down, and Torres was coming back to tag. It’s a situation you can’t do anything about,” said Renfroe, who did earn an RBI for driving in Torres.
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Renfroe was also credited with the longest single he’s ever going to hit in professional baseball.
“I’ve been hitting a bunch of balls hard,” he said. “I’ve been pleased when I actually hit the ball. I’ve got to lower my strikeouts and put the bat on the ball more.”
Tri-City (6-7, 25-26) fell two games behind Everett (8-5, 32-19) in the North Division and one game behind Vancouver (7-6, 29-22). But Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor still was pleased to earn the third series win at home against the South Division after taking three-of-five from Eugene.
“It’s always big when you can take 2-of-3 or 3-of-5. But I can’t take anything away from Eugene. We didn’t make many adjustments against (Ems starter Coby) Cowgill,” Saylor said, encouraged that his players will get at least one day off for the All-Star break. “We’ll take some time, get one day off and come back here for a Tuesday workout. It’s especially nice for the guys who have gone full-tilt since extended spring training every day since February.”
Wade gave up a leadoff home run to Malquiel Brito in the fifth and got into more trouble in the top of the sixth when Renfroe singled to lead off the inning and Trae Santos doubled to send him to third. Fernando Perez then bounced a single past second baseman Cesar Galvez against a drawn-in infield, scoring Renfroe and Santos to make it 4-1.
Wade left after that, and the seventh-round draft pick out of the University of Arizona, is still looking for his first professional win, but Saylor said it could come at any time.
“Konner did a good job staying down in the strike zone aside from those two he left up. He just didn’t get a lot of offensive support,” Saylor said. “His sinker was on with a nice late action to it.”
Cowgill (1-0) picked up his first win, giving up an unearned run on three hits over five innings.
Mike Tauchman and Michael Benjamin also continued to show production out of the Nos. 3 and 4 slots in the batting order. Tauchman, a 10th-round pick out of Bradley University, extended his hitting streak to six games and scored his ninth run over that stretch.
Benjamin, a 13th-rounder out of Arizona State, drove in Tauchman with a fourth-inning grounder to shortstop Felipe Blanco. It was Benjamin’s 13th RBI in the last six games.
Notes: The Dust Devils will send six players — P Trent Daniel, 1B/OF Sean Dwyer, P Johendi Jiminian, SS Alec Mehrten, OF Mike Tauchman and P Ryan Warner — to the NWL All-Star game Tuesday at Everett’s Memorial Stadium. The rest of the squad will get three days off before a five-game road trip against the Hillsboro Hops beginning Thursday. ... Marco Gonzales, son of Dust Devils pitching coach Frank Gonzales, was promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals to Palm Beach (Fla.) in Advanced-A Florida State League on Aug. 1. He made his first appearance for Palm Beach in a 5-1 road win at Dunedin, allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings. Gonzales, a left-handed pitcher out of Gonzaga University, was the Cardinals first-round pick this year and the 19th overall pick in the MLB draft.