TACOMA, Wash. – Eleven hits and a strong outing from starting pitcher Christian Bergman powered the Tacoma Rainiers (2-3) to a 7-2 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas (3-3) on Opening Night at Cheney Stadium on Tuesday night.
Bergman (1-0) struck out the first four El Paso batters he faced on the night, and ultimately worked 5.0 scoreless innings to earn the win. He allowed only five hits and totaled seven strikeouts while issuing just one walk.
The Rainiers scored in four of the first five innings and jumped out to a 7-0 lead that would prove to be more than enough offense to claim victory. Second baseman Zach Shank led way with a 3-for-4 performance that included one run and one RBI. Designated hitter Gordon Beckham and right fielder Tyler O’Neill both blasted home runs into left field, combining to go 4-for-9 with three runs and two RBI.
O’Neill lifted his home run onto the R Yard in left field with two outs in the bottom of the first inning to give the Rainiers an early 1-0 cushion. It was the second home run in five games for the Mariners No. 2 prospect.
Beckham followed with a home of his own in the top of the third inning, pushing the lead out to 2-0. Center fielder Ben Gamel roped a double into right field in the next at-bat, advanced to third on a fly out to right, and came in to score on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Daniel Vogelbach.
A fielding error by El Paso third baseman Cory Spangenberg gave Tacoma another run in the bottom of the fourth before the Rainiers broke the game open with a three-run outburst in the fifth inning.
The Rainiers quickly loaded the bases to start the bottom of the fifth, leaving an RBI opportunity for left fielder Dario Pizzano, who lifted a sacrifice fly into left to score a run. Shank followed two batters later with a single to score another, and a bases-loaded walk drawn by catcher Tuffy Gosewisch wrapped the scoring, leaving the Rainiers with a 7-0 lead.
El Paso scraped together a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning on an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly to avoid being shut out, creating a final margin of 7-2.
Ryne Harper (1.0), Dean Kiekhefer (1.0), and Jean Machi (1.0) all worked scoreless innings out of Tacoma’s bullpen, giving up zero hits and striking out four. Mark Lowe also contributed 1.0 inning of work, allowing two runs on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Tacoma and El Paso return to the field tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12 with a first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT. Rainiers right-hander Sam Gaviglio (0-0, -.–) will make his season debut up against Chihuahuas righty Matt Magill (0-0, 1.50).
All tickets, group outings and suites packages for the 2017 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.