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Tri-City bats can’t back another strong pitching effort

If you listened to the game Wednesday night, you heard about another spectacular start by a Dust Devils’ pitcher.

One night after Juan Nicasio struck out seven batters and allowed just two hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 win, Kenneth Durst turned in a nearly identical outing, whiffing nine and allowing a run on two hits through 5 2/3.

This is good news for Tri-City, which has always seemed to field a strong pitching staff.

The bad news for Durst, however — no offense. At least on Wednesday night.

Worse yet, the Dust Devils committed a couple of embarrassing baserunning gaffes in the top of the sixth inning that took them out of a run-scoring situation.

Both Jordan Pacheco and Josh Banda — standing on second and first base, respectively — got picked off within the span of a few pitches. OK, I can see one runner getting picked off base in an early season game. It’s just the second game, and a mistake or two is understandable.

But two guys in the same at-bat????

And not to kick them while they’re down, but Banda — one night after hitting a three-run homer — struck out three times. And Jhaysson Agustin got the uncoveted golden sombrero with four strikeouts.

Glad to see Sean Jarrett back in town.

I guess for his sake, I hope he can move back up the ladder quickly, but he was one of the stronger relievers from the 2006 team that had a team ERA of 3.04 and led the league with strikeouts.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander put together some pretty good numbers over the last two years, and last year seemed on track to regain the closers role he once held at Oral Roberts. But after tearing a ligament in his right elbow last year, Jarrett needed Tommy John surgery.

Funny story he told about the night his arm went sour, though.

He was called in to close a game for Asheville on May 12 of last season against the Charsetown Riverdogs. He retired the first two batters, but then felt a pop in his elbow when he threw a fastball by the next hitter for strike one.

But he felt no pain, so Jarrett forged on with the next pitch.

“The second pitch was a curve (another strike), and it popped again,” he said. “My hand was on fire.”

Tourists’ pitching coach Bryan Harvey came out at that point to see what was the matter.

“I said, ‘I’ve got two strikes and two outs. Just let me get this last guy out,’ ” Jarrett said. “He told me, ‘There’s no way you’re throwing one more pitch.’

“So (former Dust Devil’s reliever Tommy) Baumgardner came in, threw one pitch, got the out and the save.”

To anyone who knows Sean, they know he’s truly one of the nicest guys in the league. So here’s hoping he can get healthy and re-join his former teammates, many of whom are in high-A Modesto.

Congratulations to the Asheville Tourists, the Colorado Rockies’ Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, which clinched the SAL first-half championship Monday with an 8-6 win over Hickory.

The Tourists are made up largely of the 2007 Dust Devils East Division championship team, and many of them have been instrumental in Asheville’s first playoff-clinching team since 2001.

Darin Holcomb is leading the team with a .331 batting average and 25 doubles and is second on the team with 53 RBIs. Mike Mitchell is right behind him at .331 with a team-high 49 runs scored, and Brian Rike is tied for the team lead with 12 homers.

Starting pitcher Cory Riordan is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA and leads the team with 86 strikeouts. Sheng-An Kuo is 8-3 with a 3.64 ERA.

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