A sold-out crowd of 3,733 baseball fans had a chance to get ahold of something pretty rare Friday night at Gesa Stadium: a bobblehead doll of Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback who made his professional baseball debut with the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2010.
On the field, they saw something perhaps even more elusive: a runaway offense.The Dust Devils exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning en route to a 6-4 Northwest League win over the Hillsboro Hops.
Tri-City first baseman Sean Dwyer treated the fans to the rarest of the rare: a home run over the right-field wall at Gesa Stadium. The 11th-round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast led off the bottom of the fifth and started the rally with a line drive that just cleared the top of the fence.
“That felt awesome,” Dwyer said. “You come here not expecting to hit any home runs. I didn’t think it would make it out.”
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But the 6-foot left-hander teed off on a 3-1 fastball from Hillsboro starter Ben Eckles.
“It was just what I expected,” Dwyer said. “I was looking for one pitch.”
Kyle Von Tungeln, a NWL All-Star with Tri-City in 2012, kept his momentum going after joining the team last week in Boise with three hits, including an RBI double. In five games with the Dust Devils, the Sugar Land, Texas, native has five extra base hits.
“It goes back to the type of player he is. He’s very patient at the plate — sometimes a little too patient for me.” Tri-City manager Drew Saylor said. “He also made a couple of nice plays in center field.”
Saylor was also pleased with the Dust Devils’ performance on the basepaths. Tri-City recorded six stolen bases — two by Michael Bejamin.
Johendi Jiminian went 42⁄3 innings for Tri-City, allowing a run on six hits before Shawn Stuart replaced him. Stuart (2-1), who previously had struggled at Gesa Stadium, went 21⁄3 innings to pick up the win.
Eckels (1-4) took the loss for the Hops, allowing five runs — three earned — on four hits over 41⁄3 innings.
Hillsboro made it interesting against Dust Devils reliever Eric Nedelijkovic, walking the leadoff runner in the ninth and giving up a single to Ryan Gebhardt to set up a two-on, no outs situation. The 21st-round draft pick out of Miami allowed an RBI grounder to Josh Parr and threw a pair of wild pitches to score Taylor Ratliff, cutting the lead to 6-4.
Nedelijkovic walked Yogey Perez-Ramos to bring up Zach Esquerra, who hit a home run last night, and induced a flyball out to right field to end the game.
Notes: Fans began lining up in front of Gesa Stadium at 3 p.m. to get a crack at the Wilson bobblehead. One of the dolls already was available on eBay by the sixth inning, with a top bid of $31.