When power hitters summon their darkest fears, it’s the right field wall at Gesa Stadium that wakes them up in a cold sweat.
It may look like any other, but many a Northwest League hitter will attest to its mysterious ability to repel certain home run balls in any other park.
"The wind knocks balls down by 35-40 feet. I haven't seen anything like it in a while," Tri-City Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor said.
But Kyle Von Tungeln and Chris O’Dowd — the Tri-City Dust Devils’ Nos. 1-2 hitters — broke down the wall, so to speak, for at least one night. The duo hammered back-to-back solo home runs over the Dust Devils’ own version of the Green Monster to lead off the bottom of the third inning in Tri-City’s 10-2 NWL win over the Boise Hawks on Sunday night.
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"I honestly had no idea it was going out," Von Tungeln said. "(Boise) has been pitching inside the last couple games, so I went up hunting fastballs and turned on one."
It was the second home run for each, and interestingly enough, it wasn't the first time they had homered in the same game. Both players went deep in a 15-2 home win over Hillsboro back on July 13.
But it was the first time Tri-City players hit back-to-back home runs in Pasco since Oscar Materano and Sam Smith did it in the fifth inning of a 5-3 win over Boise on July 16, 2002.
The blasts also gave the Dust Devils 13 for the season, ensuring they would not set a new league low for longballs. The league record for fewest home runs will remain 12, set by the Seattle Rainiers in 1976.
"Von Tungeln did a great job adjusting his approach, and O'Dowd got the job done, hitting it just inside the foul pole," Saylor said. "We also ran the bases exceptionally well, stealing some bags."
Six of them, to be exact. O'Dowd and Wilson Soriano had two apiece, and Von Tungeln and Mike Tauchman stole one.
The Dust Devils won their second in a row after five consecutive losses, allowing Tri-City (9-15 second half, 28-34 overall) to pull within three games of North Division leader Spokane (12-12, 32-30). Boise (14-10, 35-27) dropped two games behind South Division leader Salem-Keizer (39-23).
It seems a far cry from where they were three days ago after losing nine of 10 games.
"You never know in this game," Saylor said. "As long as you take care of business."
It was the second night in a row the Dust Devils scored double-digit runs. Tri-City beat Boise 11-0 on Saturday night, collecting 16 hits. They had 13 on Sunday, which was more than enough to topple the Hawks, who came in as the NWL’s top hitting team.
Von Tungeln and O’Dowd combined to drive in seven of the Dust Devils’ 10 runs. Von Tungeln’s four RBIs matched Tri-City’s single season high of four, set by Sean Dwyer on July 13 in a 15-2 home win over Hillsboro.
"Maybe we were holding all our hits in and we made up for it tonight," Von Tungeln said. "We've been staying positive and putting our work in. The way we're feeling now, we're confident and having fun."
The Dust Devils got on the board quickly, as Wilfredo Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning RBI single to center, scoring O’Dowd.
They scored three more in the third, the first two on the back-to-back homers. The last came on an RBI single by Patrick Valaika, which made it 4-0.
Boise put a run on the board in the top of the fourth on a line-drive single to left by David Bote, cutting the lead to 4-1.
O’Dowd added a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth, scoring Wilson Soriano and Von Tungeln for a 6-1 lead. The Hawks added one more to cut it to 6-2, but the Tri-City offense wasn’t quite done.
Von Tungeln came up in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and cleared the bases with a line-drive double to the gap in right center field to make it 10-2.
Antonio Senzatela (2-3) picked up the win, allowing just one run on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He got plenty of run support, which kept the pressure off the bullpen.
Marc Magliaro gave up a meaningless run over 1 2/3 innings, and Kennewick native Tony Bryant redeemed himself with a solid inning of relief after walking four batters in 2/3 innings during a 6-2 loss to Boise on Friday night.
Bryant allowed one hit, a double to left by Lance Rymel, but retired the next two on infield grounders to end the eighth.
Trent Daniel, the NWL saves leader, pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation. Daniel, a 17th-round draft pick out of the University of Arkansas, still has not allowed a run in 17 2/3 innings.
Paul Blackburn (1-3) took the loss for Boise, allowing four runs on seven hits over three innings.
Notes: Today’s starters will be Tri-City RHP Logan Norris (0-2, 3.75 ERA) against Boise RHP James Pugliese (4-3, 2.32 ERA). ... It was a good day for the long fly in the NWL, as eight home runs were hit in four games. w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com