TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma Rainiers (77-60) second baseman Mike Freeman’s two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the club to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Fresno Grizzlies (70-67) on Tuesday night at Cheney Stadium.
The victory, coupled with the Reno Aces 4-0 shutout loss to the Sacramento River Cats, expanded the Rainiers lead in the Pacific Northern Division to 3.5 games and eliminated Fresno from playoff contention. Tacoma’s magic number now stands at three with just six games remaining in the regular season.
Rainiers starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio held the Grizzlies to just two runs on five hits over 6.0 innings of work. He issued one walk, struck out six, and allowed two home runs.
Freeman finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run, and two RBI. Right fielder James Ramsey joined him with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double.
A one-out double from Ramsey in the bottom of the second inning set up an RBI single into left field for shortstop Tyler Smith, putting the Rainiers on top 1-0 early.
Danny Worth tied the game at 1-1 with a solo home run to lead off the top of the fourth inning – his 11th home run of the season was lined into the Rainiers bullpen beyond the left field wall.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach immediately responded, ripping a solo home run of his own into left field to put the Rainiers back out in front, 2-1. Five batters later, following a pair of base hits and two outs, catcher Jesus Sucre poked an RBI single into right field, moving Tacoma’s advantage out to 3-1.
A solo home run from Fresno’s Nolan Fontana in the top of the fifth and an RBI single off the bat of Colin Moran in the top of the eighth knotted the game up at 3-3.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth and Vogelbach on first base following a walk, Freeman blasted his third home run of the season over the right-center field wall to propel the Rainiers to a 5-3 victory. The two-run shot was the first home run surrendered by Fresno reliever Jandel Gustave all season.
Evan Scribner (1.0), David Rollins (1.0), and Andrew Kittredge completed the game for Tacoma from the bullpen. Rollins allowed one run on two hits while earning his fifth win of the season, while Kittredge tossed a one-hit ninth to secure his sixth save.
Tacoma will send right-hander Joe Wieland (12-6, 5.78) to the mound as they continue their series with Fresno tomorrow, Wednesday, August 31. The Grizzlies will counter with right-hander Brady Rodgers (12-4, 2.91). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.
All tickets, group outings and suites packages for the 2016 season are available for purchase in-person at the Cheney Stadium Box Office, online at www.tacomarainiers.com, or over the phone at (253) 752-7707. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Rainiers throughout the season can be found by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand) or liking the team on Facebook.