TACOMA, Wash. – Adept base running from left fielder Ian Miller and a pair of clutch hits during the bottom of the ninth earned the Tacoma Rainiers (56-57) a 5-4 comeback victory over the Memphis Redbirds (73-39) on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium.
Center fielder Boog Powell (2×5, R, 2 RBI), shortstop Taylor Motter (2×5, RBI) and right fielder Zach Shank (2×3, 2 R) led the way for the Rainiers on offense during their 33rd home victory of the season.
Tacoma starter Chase De Jong (3-6) allowed three earned runs across six innings during his 15th start of the year, adding two walks and a strikeout.
For the third straight game, the Redbirds and Rainiers opened the scoring in the first inning. Saturday evening, however, it was Memphis that struck first. An RBI groundout from Nick Martini gave the Redbirds a 1-0 lead during the top half of the third.
Tacoma was quick to answer, using a leadoff single from center fielder Boog Powell and an RBI base-hit to center from second baseman Gordon Beckham to knot the game at 1-1.
The Rainiers weren’t done yet, as they tallied two runs on four hits during the bottom of the second to take and extend the lead. Back-to-back singles from left fielder Ian Miller and right fielder Zach Shank gave the Rainiers and early chance with a runner in scoring position. Powell then grounded out, scoring Miller from third – he advanced via a stolen base and Shank’s single – and giving the Rainiers a 2-1 lead. Shortstop Shawn O’Malley then singled to left field to score Shank and extend the Tacoma lead to 3-1.
A pair of RBI doubles from the Redbirds during the third and fourth innings and a sacrifice fly in the fifth gave Memphis a 4-3 lead.
The score remained there over the next three innings, sending the Redbirds into the bottom of the ninth holding a one-run lead. Miller opened the frame with an infield single on a ball hit back to the mound, and promptly stole second base on the first pitch to Shank. A sacrifice bunt from Shank put runners on the corners when Miller advanced to third under the attempted tag. Powell laced the game-tying single into right field, evening the game at 4-4, and Motter followed two batters later with the game-winner. Motter punched a walk-off RBI single through the left side of the infield, scoring Shank and sending the Rainiers home victorious.
Right handed reliever Max Povse (1-0) was terrific during his seventh appearance on the year, allowing zero hits or walks and striking out four across two scoreless frames.
Dan Altavilla (1-0) worked the top of the ninth inning and extended his scoreless outings streak to nine consecutive games. The walk-off win in the bottom of the frame gave him his first win of the season.
The Rainiers and Redbirds return to action Sunday afternoon for the series finale – first pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Righty Andrew Moore (2-3, 3.16) will get the start for the Rainiers and right hander Jack Flaherty (3-1, 3.21) will be on the hill for Memphis.
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.