The Tri-City Dust Devils were in rare air Monday night at Gesa Stadium.
With a 10-game home winning streak on the line and a chance to sweep a five-game series against Salem-Keizer, the Dust Devils let one slip away in a 7-6 loss in 10 innings.
Charles Jones reached scored on a fielding error by third baseman Alec Mehrten and later scored on a two-out throwing error by second baseman Zach Osborne to break a 6-6 tie in the top of the 10th.
But with East Division rival Spokane arriving in Pasco today — first pitch 7:15 p.m. — for a three-game series, the Dust Devils won’t let this loss get them down.
“We’ve still got to keep our heads up. We got to finish the first half on a positive note,” Tri-City second baseman Patrick Hutcheson said after driving in two runs. “(Spokane) is definitely an answer-back series for us after we lost three games up there.”
The Dust Devils (18-20) finished the first half three games behind first-place Yakima (21-17). Boise (13-25) beat Eugene 3-0 to finish eight games back in third place, and Spokane lost 12-7 in Vancouver to finish nine games back in last place.
“We took four of five against a team we’ve always struggled against,” Tri-City skipper Fred Ocasio said. “We had our chances but we couldn’t hold the lead. A couple of errors cost us.”
Joe Rapp picked on a 1-0 fastball from Dust Devils starter T.J. Oakes with two outs in the first and sent it over the left field wall for a 1-0 Volcanoes’ lead.
But Tri-City had an answer, as it has all series. Derek Jones launched a one-out triple to the gap in right center. The next batter, Tom Murphy, hit a grounder to third baseman Stephen Yarrow, whose throw home went wide and Jones scored. Murphy, who advanced to second on the error, then scored on a single by Jarod Berggren to make it 2-1 Dust Devils.
Tri-City added three more runs in the bottom of the third. Zach Osborne started things off with a triple down the line in right field. Jones drove him in with a single to left, and Murphy plated Jones with a double into the right center field gap to make it 4-1.
Francisco Sosa followed with a grounder to Yarrow, who caught Murphy in a rundown between second and third, while Sosa advanced to second. Berggren then drove in Sosa to put Tri-City up 5-1.
Salem-Keizer made life tough on Oakes in the top of the fifth, scoring five runs on five hits to take a 6-5 lead. Oakes gave up three singles before Kentrell Hill and Ryan Jones belted back-to-back RBI singles to cut it to 5-3.
Oakes was relieved by Chris Dennis, who threw a wild pitch that scored Stephen Branca to make it 5-4. Chuckie Jones capped the scoring with a two-run single to put the Volcanoes ahead.
The Dust Devils tied it at 6 in the bottom of the seventh, as S-K reliever Ronald Ziegler loaded the bases and then hit Hutcheson with a pitch to drive in Jones.
Oakes allowed six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, but reliever Josh Slaats (0-3) took the loss after giving up an unearned run in the 10th despite pitching well over three innings.
Armando Paniagua (1-0) got the win for the Volcanoes, tossing two scoreless innings. Lorenzo Mendoza tossed a scoreless 10th for his first save.
Notes: Volcanoes OF Hill went 2-for-5, collecting multiple hits for the sixth consecutive game. Hill is batting .459 (17-for-37) in his last nine games. ... Spokane arrives in town today to begin a three-game series. The pitching matchups will be LHP Roberto Padilla (1-1, 0.77 ERA) for Tri-City and RHP Connor Sadzeck (0-3, 4.20). ... Everett C Mike Zunino, the Seattle Mariners’ first-round draft pick, was named the NWL offensive player of the week for July 15-22. Zunino, the third overall selection out of the University of Florida, hit .407 (11-for-27) with two doubles, three home runs and eight runs scored in his first week as a professional. Tri-City RHP Peter Tago, also a former first-round pick from 2010, earned NWL pitcher of the week nod with his first career scoreless appearance in a 2-1 home win over Salem-Keizer on July 20. He allowed just three hits over eight innings. ... Former Tri-City SS Josh Rutledge hit his first major-league home run in the Colorado Rockies’ xxx road loss at Arizona.