A pretty windy day here at Gesa Stadium, but an otherwise beautiful, clear view into the Nine Canyon foothills to the south of Pasco.
A familiar face gets the start for Tri-City today. RHP Tyler Gagnon (0-1, 2.00 ERA), who was the No. 2 starter on last year's East-Division champion Dust Devils and a two-time NWL pitcher of the week, is working his way back after off-season shoulder surgery. He'll go against Salem-Keizer RHP Joan Gregorio (3-3, 4.86), one of the workhorses of the NWL with 37 innings pitched.
Tri-City strikes first, as Kyle Von Tungeln walks to lead off the bottom of the first and then advances to third on an errant pickoff throw by Gregorio. He scored on Rosell Herrera's groundout to second base.
Miguel De Leon drew a two-out walk and then scored on Derek Jones' tailing double down the left field line.
Dust Devils take 2-0 lead after one.
Salem-Keizer draws even with two runs in the top of the second as Gagnon gives up four consecutive singles. None of them were hit that hard, but they all fell in or found a hole. Ryan Jones had an RBI single and Matt Duffy drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly to center.
We're even at 2 after 1 1/2.
The chipping contest has always been one of my favorite on-field promotions, and today was a fun one. The contestants were Logan Sanders, the son of hitting coach Anthony Sanders, and Dawson Burba, the son of pitching coach Dave Burba.
Of course, Dave Burba, as always, joined in the festivities.
Logan won by a foot after Dave sent his attempt long by about 20 feet.
Two innings later, two more Sanders siblings — Marcus and Troy — took the field for the Barrel Race promotion, where the contestants ride bouncy horses around a fixed point and back.
Marcus wins this one after Troy went head-over-teakettle before the first turn. They all looked like they were having fun, though.
Dust Devils continue their scoring flurry, getting three more runs in the bottom of the second. That makes five consecutive innings they've scored runs dating back to last night's 5-4 10-inning win, and makes a total of 10 runs during that stretch.
Alec Mehrten, who had the game-winning hit yesterday, loops a one-out single to right, and Zach Osborne walks. Von Tungeln then doubled to left center, bringing in Mehrten and sending Osborne to third. That chased Gregorio, who was replaced by Steven Okert.
Herrera then grounded out to second, scoring Osborne to make it 4-2.
Tom Murphy capped the scoring with an RBI single over third baseman Stephen Yarrow. That made it 5-2, and that's where it stands.
Tri-City tacks on another run in the bottom of the fourth, as Osborne started things off with a single to right and then scored on Von Tungeln's RBI double to the wall in left center field to make it 6-2.
Gagnon left the game after five innings but looked all right. He did give up two runs on nine hits — all singles — but he never seemed like he lost his head. He only walked one and should be in line for his first win of the season.
Score still holds at 6-2 Tri-City in the top of the ninth, but reliever Matt Flemer is fighting to hold things together. He walked the leadoff batter and got a tough break when Dashenko Ricardo reached on a fielding error by Yafistel Roja at second base.
But Osborne saves the day, leaping to snag a line drive by Mike Mergenthaler. The ball actually popped out of his glove, but he caught it before it hit the ground and then doubled the man off first.
That gave Flemer enough of a boost to finish the game.
Dust Devils win it 6-2.
That's 10 in a row at home. I'll have to do some homework on this, but that could be a franchise record. I'll know more when you tune in to my mindless blathering tomorrow.
Thanks for tuning in today.