Peter Tago had all his pitches working Tuesday.
Working off his low-90s fastball, he used his curveball and his developing changeup to dominate the Boise Hawks, recording his first win of the season as the Tri-City Dust Devils held on for a 6-4 victory at Gesa Stadium.
Tago, a 2010 first-round supplemental draft pick, has high hopes this season, but he struggled out of the gates in 2012.
That changed Tuesday, when he struck out five and allowed one run in five strong innings.
“All three pitches he was throwing for strikes,” Tri-City catcher Anthony Aguilera said. “He mixed it up well. When you have command of the inside and the outside, you will do well.”
Tago gave up a first-inning run, but he bounced back to strike out Willson Contreras and Rock Shoulders while looking to get out of a first-and-third jam.
He went on to retire eight batters in a row, and he allowed just two baserunners the rest of his night.
“I was working with (pitching coach Dave) Burba making some adjustments, as far as sitting on my backside,” Tago said, “and Aggy called a great game.”
Tago threw 81 pitches, including 56 for strikes. He allowed just three hits and walked one, throwing first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 20 batters he faced -- something with which he has struggled this season.
“His command was a bit better, and he was able to use his changeup to keep them off balance,” Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio said. “His changeup is something he has to develop. When they get on his fastball, he has to use a changeup, and today he did.”
The win was the third in a row for the Dust Devils, who swept the Hawks. The two teams open a three-game set today in Boise.
“Key hits in key situations,” Aguilera said of the recent win streak. “People are getting on base and getting the hit. Before, we were popping up or striking out, but we’re doing a good job now.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Dust Devils quickly bounced back as Francisco Sosa tripled off the wall in left-center field to tie the score.
Miguel De Leon then handled the bat nicely on an 0-2 pitch, singling to right field for a 2-1 lead.
He later scored on a fielding error by Boise third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
All told, the Dust Devils roughed up Boise starter Ian Dickson, knocking the righty out after one inning.
“We are doing a better job of getting big hits the last couple of days,” Ocasio said.
Eric Federico came on in relief of Tago and pitched three perfect innings, throwing just 31 pitches to get the nine outs.
“All fastballs for Federico,” Aguilera said. “They couldn’t hit him. He was spotting it so well, they couldn’t hit it.”
The Dust Devils tacked on two runs in the seventh, after Kyle Von Tungeln hit an RBI single and then scored on a delayed double steal. Aguilera added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
The Dust Devils did struggle to close out the game, as Taylor Reid left with a blister on his finger after giving up a leadoff single and falling behind 3-1 on Candelario.
Andrew Brown came on in relief and finished the walk, then gave up a single. After a run-scoring passed ball by Aguilera, Shoulders hammered a two-run double off the left-field wall.
Just like that, it was 6-4, and the tying run was at the plate, but Brown made two nice fielding plays. Everyone then let out a deep breath when pinch-hitter Chadd Krist’s long fly ball was caught by Charlie Blackmon steps in front of the wall to end the game.
NOTES: The annual Fourth of July fireworks show helped the Dust Devils set a Gesa Stadium record with 3,826 fans. The first inning lasted nearly an hour, while the next eight innings were finished in 90 minutes. Reliever Will Rankin was promoted to Asheville, while right-handed pitchers Adam Paulencu and Matt Flemer were assigned to Tri-City. Infielder Matt Argyropoulos and outfielder Dillon Thomas were placed on the seven-day disabled list. Today’s projected starters are T.J. Oakes for Tri-City and Willengton Cruz for Boise.
w Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org