A day after playing a 3 hour and 20 minute marathon, the Tri-City Dust Devils did everything they could to keep Sunday’s game on the shorter side.
Tri-City kept the game clock down by hitting into five double plays — one short of the Northwest League record — but the end result was an efficient 3-2 win over the Yakima Bears.
“I wanted to call an up-tempo game today. I was going to call mostly fastballs,” Dust Devils catcher Anthony Aguilera said after driving in the team’s first run with a second-inning double and scoring on an RBI single by Zach Osborne to give Tri-City a 2-1 lead.
Aguilera came up after Miguel De Leon — the No. 6 hitter — grounded into a double play to dampen hopes of a big rally against Yakima starter Austin Platt. Still, Aguilera had a runner on second base with a chance to drive him in.
“My focus was if (Platt) throws a fastball anywhere, I’m going to hit it,” Aguilera said. “If we get a run here, it changes the whole game.”
Tri-City starter T.J. Oakes, an 11th-round draft pick out of the University of Minnesota, picked up his first professional victory with six relatively drama-free innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander allowed two runs — one unearned — on just five hits and struck out five.
“It took seven or eight starts to get there, but I finally got it,” Oakes said, rating this one of his best starts of the season. “I had a good start in Boise, but this one will stand out because it’s my first win.”
Oakes gave up a one-out double to Josh Parr — Yakima’s No. 2 hitter — in the first but didn’t panic. He kept his cool when Joe Loftus’ hard ground ball got past Tri-City first baseman Miguel De Leon for an error, allowing Parr to score for a 1-0 lead.
“Those things are going to happen. You can’t control the physical errors. You’ve got to focus on the next guy,” Oakes said.
Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio even found the bright side to hitting into five twin-killings.
“We hit into five double plays, but it means we put the ball in play. We just hit it right at people,” Ocasio said. “Our pitchers did a great job. Oakes was aggressive and threw strikes. He stayed focused and kept his composure.”
Platt (0-2) took the loss after giving up all three Tri-City runs on 10 hits over six innings.
Yakima tied the score at 2 in the top of the sixth when Joe Loftus connected for a solo home run off Oakes. But the Dust Devils came back in the bottom half of the frame.
Tom Murphy, who went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, hit a one-out single off Platt and took second on a bloop single by Francisco Sosa. A walk to Derek Jones loaded the bases, and Murphy scored when Parr — the Bears’ shortstop — booted a short hop ground ball by De Leon.
The victory represented Tri-City’s first series win against Yakima this season. The Dust Devils lost five of their first six meetings against Yakima in the first half.
“We knew we had struggled against them. We wanted to turn things around,” Aguilera said. “I’m feeling a little momentum swing.”
Tri-City (5-7 second half) moved into a tie with Yakima for third place, three games behind first-place Boise, which beat Spokane 10-9 in 11 innings.
Notes: The Vancouver Canadians arrive at Gesa Stadium today to begin a five-game series. The Canadians won four of five games against the Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver. The pitching matchups for Game 1 will be LHP Roberto Padilla (2-1, 1.31 ERA) for Tri-City and RHP Javier Avendano (4-1, 1.53). ... De Leon turned 21 on Sunday but didn’t have a great one on the field. The 6-foot-2 Dominican native went 1-for-3 and hit into two double plays. He also committed an error in the field that led to the Bears’ first run. ... Tri-City avoided infamy regarding the double-play record but still got into the record books during Friday’s 6-2 loss to Yakima, allowing a NWL record-tying five triples.