TACOMA, Wash. – The Tacoma Rainiers (79-60) took home a 2-1 extra-innings victory over the Fresno Grizzlies (70-69) and won a Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division title on Thursday night at Cheney Stadium.
The Rainiers and Grizzlies battled into early Friday morning before designated hitter Ryan Strausborger sent Tacoma into the clubhouse victorious with his walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 14th inning. It marked the longest game of the season in both innings (14) and total time (4:59) for both clubs this season.
With the Grizzlies at bat in the top of the seventh inning and the game tied at 0-0, the Sacramento River Cats completed their 3-1 victory over the Reno Aces at Raley Field, securing the Rainiers division title.
Within minutes, Fresno broke the scoreless tie with a run in the top of the seventh. The first two batters to the plate reached base on a single and walk and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Colin Moran followed two batters later with an RBI infield single to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.
Second baseman Mike Freeman’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth off the glove of a leaping Jack Mayfield pulled the Rainiers even with the Grizzlies at 1-1. Left fielder Norichika Aoki led of the frame with a single and promptly stole second base to put himself in scoring position for Freeman.
The two clubs would play on for six more innings before the Rainiers broke through for the winning run. Back-to-back singles from right fielder James Ramsey and shortstop Tyler Smith put the winning run in scoring position for Strausborger, who dropped the game-winning hit into shallow right-center field.
The division title is the Rainiers first since 2010, and the club’s fifth overall postseason berth since becoming the top affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in 1995. Tacoma will open the Pacific Conference Championship against the El Paso Chihuahuas on Wednesday, Sep. 7.
Tacoma starting pitcher Jarrett Grube contributed his third quality start of the season, holding Fresno scoreless while allowing just three hits over 6.0 innings of work. He walked four and struck out six.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach (2×7), right fielder James Ramsey (2×5), and third baseman Zach Shank (2×6) all contributed multiple hits in the marathon affair. Center fielder Daniel Robertson drew four walks, setting a Rainiers single-game season high.
The Rainiers bullpen held strong, keeping the Grizzlies off the scoreboard while allowing just four hits over 8.0 innings of work. Paul Fry tossed the final 4.0 innings of the night, ultimately earning his third win of the season.
The Rainiers welcome the Reno Aces to Cheney Stadium for the final home series of the season beginning tomorrow, Friday, September 2. Tacoma right-hander Cody Martin (10-7, 3.82) will square off against Reno left-hander Anthony Banda (4-4, 3.92). First pitch is set 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.