Big night at Gesa Stadium. Fireworks. Gorgeous weather. Solid crowd.
No better time for the Tri-City Dust Devils to start some positive momentum. A win would be a good start.
Tri-City will send out RHP Tyler Gagnon (1-2, 2.25 ERA) to go against LHP Daniel Watts (2-3, 1.22) of Yakima.
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Gagnon sets the Bears down 1-2-3 in the first, and the Dust Devils come out firing.
Leadoff hitter Kyle Von Tungeln bounces a triple down the right field line, and Tri-City gets a break when Yakima third baseman Mark Ginther throws wide of first base trying to get Rosell Herrera. Watts then walks Tom Murphy to load the bases.
Francisco Sosa strikes out, but Matt Argyropoulos comes through with an opposite-field single between first and second to score Von Tungeln and Herrera.
Derek Jones, a former teammate of Argyropoulos' at Washington State, follows that with a two-run triple to the wall in left center to make it 4-0 Dust Devils.
Nothing like a little Pullman power.
Gagnon slips a little in the bottom of the second. After giving up a leadoff double to Wagner Mateo, he nearly got out of the inning but hit No. 7 hitter Mike Lang with a pitch. The next batter, Mark Ginther, hammered a 2-2 fastball over the groundskeepers shack in left field to pull within 4-3.
Josh Parr then laid down a nice bunt up the third base line, and Yogey Perez-Ramos singled between short and third to set up another possible run scoring opportunity for Yakima.
But first baseman Miguel De Leon made a nice pick of Kevin Medrano's short-hop grounder and tossed lightly to Gagnon covering at first to end the threat.
Tri-City leads 4-3 after 1 1/2 innings.
Zach Osborne leads off the bottom of the second with a line drive double to the gap in right center field. Von Tungeln follows with an RBI double to the Farmers Insurance sign in right center.
Watts then does a nice job escaping more trouble, setting down Herrera, Murphy and Sosa in order to end the second.
Dust Devils lead 5-3 after 2.
Von Tungeln had a rough night in center field during a 6-2 loss Friday, but he's more than making up for it today. Not only is he 2-for-2 with a double, a triple, a run and an RBI, but he just made a spectacular diving catch on Joe Loftus' sinking liner for the first out in the third.
He's looking like a man possessed out there.
Tri-City keeps the run train rolling with three more in the bottom of the fourth. Osborne smacks another leadoff double, followed by a walk to Von Tungeln. Herrera lines out to Lang in center, but that's it for Watts, who gets replaced by RHP Blake Forslund.
Forslund does a good thing on a 2-1 pitch to Murphy, getting a long pop up to deep left field that looks playable. But Loftus lost the ball in the twilight, and it landed about 25 feet behind him near the wall. Osborne scored easily to make it 6-3. The play was ruled a hit, extending Murphy's hitting streak to 15 games — the longest in Dust Devils' history behind Charlie Blackmon's 23-game streak in 2008.
After Forslund walked Sosa to load the bases, he hit Argyropoulos to drive in Von Tungeln. Then Jones hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Murphy.
That made it 8-3, giving Gagnon a healthy five-run cushion.
Yakima scores one in the top of the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Mateo to cut the lead to 8-4.
This will be it for Gagnon, who allowed the three-run homer to Ginther but was otherwise pretty solid through five innings. He'll be in line for the win if Tri-City can hold it.
Dust Devils load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth and end up with nada. That's a lot easier to shrug off considering they have a four-run lead, but leaving runners on base has been one of the team's biggest problems this year. Victory or no, I'm sure the players will be hearing about that one tomorrow.
Tri-City tacks on one more in the seventh, on Murphy's seventh-inning single. That guy had high expectations coming in as the third-rounder, but he's sure lived up to them. He's a good, patient hitter who knows how to work a count, and I don't see him trying to overswing like a lot of first-year players do.
Well, maybe a few times.
But it's difficult to argue with a 15-game hitting streak.
Tri-City puts a cap on this one. The Dust Devils didn't gain any ground on Boise, which beat Spokane 6-2 tonight, but they needed a game like this one to prove they could still beat up on a pretty good baseball team.
They sure got it tonight.