The Tri-City Dust Devils, the Northwest League leaders in runs scored, pounded out 12 more hits in a 4-2 victory over Salem-Keizer on Wednesday night at Gesa Stadium.
But without the efforts of their sturdy bullpen, the Dust Devils could have easily fallen off the winning pace.
Tri-City relievers Griffin Russell and Phil Maton were the real stars of the win that kept the Dust Devils (19-15) one game behind Everett (20-14) in the North Division standings and gave them their fourth series win in four tries at Gesa Stadium. It wasn’t such an easy task, especially against a Volcanoes team leading the NWL with a .269 average.
“We take pride in putting up zeros, especially when we’re in a tight race like this,” said Russell (2-1), who picked up the win after allowing just one hit in 3 2/3 scoreless innings with his father in the stands. “Our whole bullpen has been pitching really well for the last couple weeks.”
Maton relieved Russell in the seventh and tossed two perfect innings, striking out four batters. Sam Holland closed out the win with a scoreless ninth to earn his first save.
Justin Pacchioli and Mitch Morales each had three hits to pace Tri-City’s offense, but it was a costly fielding error by S-K left fielder Julio Pena that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the bottom of the third.
Pacchioli lined a single to Pena, who overran the ball, allowing Mason Smith to score from second and give Tri-City a 3-2 lead.
Drew Leenhouts (4-2) took the loss for the Volcanoes, giving up four runs — three earned — on 10 hits in five innings.
Around the league
The North Division completed a full sweep of the South. Spokane (17-17) held off Boise (12-22) for a 9-7 road win to remain three games off the division lead, and North leader Everett posted a 6-4, 10-inning win at South leader Hillsboro (19-15). Vancouver (15-19) topped Eugene (16-18) 4-2.
Salem-Keizer first baseman John Riley sprinted 30 yards in foul territory to snare Carlos Belen’s pop-up near the Tri-City bullpen to start the third. Two innings later, Dust Devils first baseman Ty France made an over-the-shoulder catch in front of the field-level seats behind first base.
Streaks & stats
Tri-City: Thanks in part to Tuesday night’s 15-run explosion, the Dust Devils lead the NWL with 192 runs scored. ... Jose Carlos Urena, who is fifth in the NWL with 25 RBIs, reached base for the 25th consecutive game with a first-inning walk. ... France extended his hitting streak to seven games. ... Rod Boykin is tied for second in the NWL in runs (26) and triples (3). ... RHP Walker Lockett is eighth in the NWL in ERA (2.58), fifth in strikeouts (35) and second in innings pitched (38 1/3). Salem-Keizer: Miguel Gomez, who leads the NWL in batting (.374), pushed his hitting streak to 17 games with a third-inning single.
The San Diego Padres promoted LHP Travis Radke, a 25th-round draft pick out of the University of Portland in 2014, to Class-A Fort Wayne (Ind.). In six starts, Radke was 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA and led the league in fewest walks per nine innings (0.31).
Did you know?
Salem-Keizer LHP Caleb Smith lived in the Tri-Cities from 2002-07 while his father worked at the Hanford site. When his family lived in Richland, Smith played for Richland National Little League, showing off the power arm that has earned him the top strikeout rate in the NWL (17.4 Ks per 9 innings). His family also lived in Pasco, about a mile from what is now Gesa Stadium.