TACOMA, Wash. – A fielding error on a routing pop fly in front of the pitcher’s mound gifted the Tacoma Rainiers (4-4) a 2-1 walk-off victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas (4-5) on Friday night at Cheney Stadium.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Tyler O’Neill popped a ball into the night sky directly in front of home plate that managed to find grass, scoring catcher Tuffy Gosewisch from third and giving the Rainiers their fourth win of the young season.
Center fielder Boog Powell, playing in just his third game of the season, recorded the Rainiers only multi-hit performance after going 2-for-3 while adding on a pair of walks. Powell and Gosewisch scored Tacoma’s only runs of the game, coming in the first and ninth innings, respectively.
Powell led off the bottom of the first for Tacoma with a walk and stole second to put himself in scoring position. A fielding error by El Paso allowed first baseman Daniel Vogelbach to reach base and moved Powell to third, setting up O’Neill for a sacrifice fly into left that scored the first run of the night and gave the Rainiers a 1-0 lead.
El Paso quickly answered in the next half inning on a two-out RBI double from Rafael Ortega that scored Collin Cowgill, knotting the score up at 1-1.
With Vogelbach at bat for Tacoma in the bottom of the third inning rain arrived at the stadium, sending the game into a delay that would last for one hour and three minutes before restarting. The two club’s managed to put just four runners into scoring position between the delay and the walk-off theatrics in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Rainiers pitchers matched a season high mark with 12 combined strikeouts and limited the Chihuahuas to just five hits on the night. Right-handed starter Dylan Unsworth worked 3.0 innings before his night was cut short due to the rain delay – he allowed one run on three hits while striking out two and walking two more.
Emilio Pagan (1.2), Nick Hagadone (1.1), Casey Fien (1.1), Dean Kiekhefer (1.0), and Mark Lowe (0.2) finished the game following the one hour, three minute delay for Tacoma. The group combined to allow just two hits and struck out 10. Lowe earned the win, his first of the year.
The victory gave the Rainiers their first series win of the season, and pulled the club up to the .500 mark with a record of 4-4.
Next the Rainiers welcome the Albuquerque Isotopes (6-3) to Cheney Stadium for a three-game series beginning tomorrow, Saturday, April 15. Tacoma is scheduled to start right-hander Ryan Weber (0-0, 0.00), while Albuquerque has tabbed righty German Marquez (0-0, 4.50). First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. PT.
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.