Sure, the Tri-City Dust Devils got plenty of help during a 6-3 Northwest League victory over the Boise Hawks on Monday night at Gesa Stadium.
But the Dust Devils also proved they can help themselves, earning their third consecutive win and moving to within two games of the North Division lead.
The Dust Devils took advantage of four Hawks errors, three of which allowed Tri-City to tie the score at 3.
Not only that, but the South Division did it’s best to make life a little easier for the Dust Devils (10-15 second half, 29-34 overall), as Hillsboro pulled out a 2-1 win over North Division leader Spokane (12-13, 32-31), and Eugene held on for a 5-4 win over Everett (11-14, 34-29) to put Tri-City back in the race for the second-half title.
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“It’s why we play until the end of the season. You never know what opportunities you’re going to get,” Dust Devils skipper Drew Saylor said. “The first thing is being able to execute our plan and not trying to do too much.”
Ashley Graeter broke a 3-3 tie with one out in the eighth inning, bouncing a 1-2 pitch from Hawks reliever Scott Frazier into right field. The opposite-field single scored Michael Benjamin to put Tri-City ahead 4-3 and set the table for an RBI single by Alec Mehrten and a sacrifice fly from Wilson Soriano to cap the scoring.
“I’d been missing pitches the whole game,” said Graeter, who finished 1-for-4 but scored two runs and stole a base. “I was trying to shoot it through the four-hole (between first and second base).”
Boise (14-11, 35-28) lost out on a chance to gain ground on South Division leader Salem-Keizer, which lost to Vancouver. Hawks starter Duane Underwood gave up three runs — all unearned — thanks to two errors by shortstop Carlos Penalver, one by second baseman Danny Lockhart and another by center fielder Kevin Encarnacion.
The Dust Devils trailed twice in the game but came back to tie it up both times.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Ashley Graeter reached on a fielding error by Penalver and then scored when Encarnacion sprinted to catch up to Alec Mehrten’s line drive to center but dropped it on the run.
Boise got two more in the top of the third, but Tri-City chipped away with runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth, the last coming in on Chris O’Dowd’s RBI double to the wall in right field.
Sean Dwyer finished 1-for-3 with two runs.
“The errors kept us in the ballgame, but we were hitting the ball hard,” Saylor said.
Tri-City starter Logan Norris was an unsung hero, holding steady for six innings while his team caught up. He finished strong, striking out the side on 14 pitches in the sixth.
“Those were my only three strikeouts of the night. They came at a good time,” Norris said after his third start of the year. “I’ve been working with (pitching coach) Frank (Gonzales) on going inside on hitters and then working away.”
Jerad McCrummen finished things up for Tri-City, tossing a perfect ninth inning for his second save of the year.
Notes: Tuesday’s starters will be Tri-City RHP Johendi Jiminian (2-3, 2.91 ERA) going against Boise RHP Dillon Maples (5-0, 0.96 ERA). Jiminian has been one of Dust Devils most consistent pitchers this season, ranking ninth in ERA and fourth in innings pitched (68). ... Lance Rymel and Shawon Dunston were credited with sacrifice bunts for Boise, which had just three for the entire season coming into the game. ... Hawks C Cael Brockmeyer was placed on the 7-day disabled list after being hit in the head by Ashley Graeter’s backswing in the fifth inning Sunday. He was diagnosed with a concussion. ... Home plate umpire Kirk Struble got a 2-for-1 in the top of the sixth inning, throwing Jacob Rogers — Boise’s cleanup hitter — out of the game after he contested a strike call. After the first pitch to the next batter, Rymel, Hawks manager Gary Van Tol had some choice words that got him tossed.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org