Gesa Stadium has always had a reputation as a pitcher’s park that keeps home run numbers down.
Triples, however, are a different story.
The Yakima Bears took advantage of Gesa’s spacious confines during a 6-2 Northwest League win over the Tri-City on Friday night, hitting five triples and two doubles to keep the Dust Devils in the East Division cellar.
Two of those three-baggers had some help from the Tri-City outfield — center fielder Kyle Von Tungeln misjudged Yogey Perez-Ramos’ fourth-inning line drive that went over his head while two runs scored, and later allowed a routine flyball to drop between him and right fielder Jarod Berggren.
Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio chalked up the misplays to the unforgiving twilight visibility, but the Bears showed no mercy.
“Von Tungeln had trouble seeing the ball. You can’t catch what you don’t see. Berggren did his best to come over and help, but couldn’t quite get there,” Ocasio said.
But even without help from the Dust Devils, the first-half East Division champion Bears were swinging the bats well against Tri-City starter Shane Broyles. Yakima collected nine of its 13 hits and scored four runs against the NWL pitcher of the week for July 9-15.
“(Broyles) is a strike thrower, but he was getting behind in the count. When you do that, hitters are going to take advantage of it,” Ocasio said.
Broyles (3-2) took the loss after giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Yakima left-hander Alex Carreras (6-4) held the Dust Devils’ bats in check, allowing one run on five hits over six innings. The 6-foot-1 Cuban gave up a one-out triple to Berggren and then an RBI grounder by Miguel De Leon in the second as Tri-City pulled to within 2-1.
But Carreras pitched shutout ball from that point until being relieved by Victor Capellan in the seventh.
“When you can command his pitches and change speeds, you’ll do well in this league,” Ocasio said. “Today, we couldn’t get anything going.”
Francisco Sosa did connect on a solo home run with one out in the ninth inning to cut Yakima’s lead to 6-2, but it was too little, too late.
One bright spot for the Dust Devils was newcomer Angel Reyes, who made his NWL debut after a recent call-up from the Dominican Summer League.
Reyes, a 6-2 right-hander, came in to relieve Broyles with a runner on third and two outs in the fifth. He struck out Steven Rodriguez to close out the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Michael Lang led off with a triple when his flyball dropped between Von Tungeln and Berggren. But Reyes struck out the next three batters — Mark Ginther, Josh Parr and Perez-Ramos — the last of whom swung and missed wildly, sending his bat into the Tri-City dugout.
“(Reyes) used to be a catcher in our organization, but we turned him into a pitcher and he’s working his way back up,” Ocasio said. “He did a good job holding them in the fifth and sixth.”
Notes: Attendance was announced at 2,567 fans. ... Dust Devils C Tom Murphy extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a sixth-inning double. He’s also reached base in 17 consecutive games. ... Today’s pitching matchups: RHP Tyler Gagnon (1-2, 2.25 ERA) for Tri-City and LHP Daniell Watts (2-3, 1.22). ... It was Autism Awareness night, and the Dust Devils wore alternate uniforms — blue with white sleeves adorned with different-colored puzzle pieces strewn about the jersey tops. Fans held a live auction during the game and two jerseys tied for the highest bid — Dust Devils pitcher Shane Broyles and Tri-City Americans’ co-owner Olie Kolzig both went for $250.