Tri-City manager Drew Saylor was unhappy with his team after a lackluster loss Tuesday.
While the final result was no different Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to Spokane at Gesa Stadium, Saylor was pleased with how his squad performed.
“The effort was there,” he said. “(Wilson) Soriano throwing the guy out at home ... even on the bunt play in the ninth, (Trent) Daniel fielding it, setting his feet and making the play.
“I’m perfectly happy taking a loss with that effort.”
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While the Dust Devils made some strong defensive plays, including an acrobatic catch by Patrick Hutcheson in short right-center field to save a run in the 7th, the team continued to make the little mistakes that add up to losses.
“We’ve got to show up to the field every day ready to play nine innings,” third baseman Michael Benjamin said. “We have to come out and get that mental attitude again.”
Tri-City pitchers walked eight batters and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch.
The defense made two errors and the offense grounded into two double plays.
Despite all of that, though, the Dust Devils still had a chance to tie the game in the ninth inning.
Benjamin laced his second double of the game, ripping a pitch from Abel De Los Santos down the left-field line leading off the ninth.
But again the little things cost the Dust Devils, as Sean Dwyer squared to bunt, but twice took strikes without offering.
He then struck out looking.
With Wilfredo Rodriguez batting, Benjamin stole third and Rodriguez then attempted to go the other way, but lined out softly to the first baseman.
Alec Mehrten then hit a sharp liner off the pitcher’s legs, but De Los Santos stayed with the play and threw Mehrten out, stranding Benjamin.
It was Tri-City’s seventh loss in eight games.
“We just haven’t put it together,” Benjamin said. “Some games the pitching is there and the offense isn’t, other times the offense comes through and the pitching doesn’t.
“It’s just a little speed bump. We’re a good team and this is the time to bring it back out again.”
Benjamin finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, driving in Michael Tauchman during Tri-City’s two-run fourth inning.
He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez after moving up to third on a Dwyer groundout to the right side of the infield.
The doubles were the fourth and fifth this month for Benjamin and he is tied for the second most in the Northwest League.
“I have had a few decent games lately,” he said. “I’m not making any changes mentally or physically, just sticking with my approach.”
Spokane jumped out early against Tri-City pitcher Logan Morris.
Jordan Akins led off the second with a double, went to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Ryan Cordell then drew a one-out walk and Barrett Serrato singled up the middle to make it 2-0. Jamie Jarmon then laced an RBI double down the left-field line for a 3-0 lead.
Morris threw 20 pitches in the inning, including 14 for balls.
He ended up lasting just 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits with four walks and no strikeouts.
The Tri-City relief corps was one of the few bright spots, as Jonathan Vargas struck out five in 3 1/3 innings.
He entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, but struck out Cam Schiller to escape.
Kennewick High graduate Tony Bryant made his Gesa Stadium debut for Tri-City and worked around a leadoff walk, striking out two. Trent Daniel finished up the bullpen’s strong work with a walk and a strikeout in the ninth.
“Bryant did a great job and Vargas made some real good pitches,” Saylor said of his bullpen. “With hitting, you always have ebbs and flows and we have to continue to stick with it.”
NOTES: Tonight’s game will feature Johendi Jiminian (2-2, 2.93 ERA) for Tri-City vs. Eric Brooks (1-3, 4.21) for Spokane, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ... The Indians feature a player with some big-time baseball history. Catcher Joe Jackson is the great-great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for life from baseball in the Black Sox Scandal. Shoeless Joe holds the third-highest batting average (.356) in major league history, but he accepted $5,000 from gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series. For more information on Shoeless Joe visit BlackBetsy.com, which is the official site for the Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame. ... In the bottom of the second, Tri-City’s Alec Mehrten hit a ground ball that rolled up Spokane shortstop Gabe Roa’s chest. Roa stayed with the play and threw out Mehrten.