Richard Prigatano didn’t have the big hit during Thursday’s 2-1 win over Everett. In fact, the rookie right fielder was still looking for his first professional hit after three games.
But the Tri-City Dust Devils’ 6-foot-4 right hander made one of the more memorable defensive plays fans are likely to see at Gesa Stadium this season.
With the score tied at 1 and Everett runners at first and second with one out, Kristian Brito lined a pitch from Dylan Thompson to right field. It looked like the ball might fall in, but Prigatano sprinted in to make the catch on one knee.
“I’m still new here. I’m still learning the field, and the wind really knocks things down in right,” Prigatano said. “Also, the ball sliced a bit. I should have caught it standing.”
Phillips Castillo, the runner at second, decided to test Prigatano’s arm on the play and headed for third after tagging up.
Prigatano was up to the task, firing a bullet straight into the glove of Dust Devils third baseman Shane Hoelscher to get Castillo by a step and a half and end the inning.
“I was surprised he was tagging, to be honest. I would’ve gone halfway on that,” Prigatano said. “To see he was tagging and going, I was ready for him.”
Prignatano was all smiles after the play, heading off the field to a throng of enthusiastic teammates and one ecstatic manager.
“I’m just like a fan in that situation. I see the play start to develop, I get excited when he gets the throw off, and I feel the joy after seeing the double play,” Tri-City skipper Drew Saylor said. “It was just a great throw. He did an excellent job being prepared for the moment.”
As far as getting his first professional hit, Prigatano knows it will come. He hit .290 in two years at Long Beach State, driving in 37 runs and stealing 10 bases along the way.
“This is a real small sample set. He’s definitely got some strength and some action with the swing along with some fast twitch,” Saylor said. “
“I don’t really call it a slump at all. I’m hitting the ball hard, so it is going to happen,” he said.
Eugene Emeralds preview: Tri-City will open a five-game series against Eugene at 7:15 p.m. today at Gesa Stadium.
Like the Dust Devils, the Emeralds got off to a rough start, losing their first four games of the year in Spokane. The Ems did win at home Wednesday and Thursday against Boise to right the ship a bit.
Eugene is led by Trea Turner, the San Diego Padres first-round draft pick out of North Carolina State. Turner, a 6-1 second baseman, is hitting .417 with five runs scored and four stolen bases. He has hit in each of his first four games with the Emeralds, who ranked second-to-last in the NWL in hitting with a .225 average.
Dust Devils RHP Tyler Gagnon (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will start his second game of the year.
Schwarber called up: Northwest League pitchers let out a collective sigh of relief when Kyle Schwarber, the No. 4 overall selection in the draft by the Chicago Cubs, was promoted from Boise to the Cubs’ Midwest League affiliate in Kane County (Ind.).
Schwarber went 12-for-20 with four home runs and 10 RBIs as Boise took four of five games from Tri-City to open the NWL season.
“Yeah, we got him out of here,” joked Dust Devils hitting coach Warren Schaeffer.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com