Up until the ninth inning Thursday night, Tacoma’s pitchers kept Colorado’s hitters in check.
Rainiers starter Mauricio Robles and relievers Shawn Kelley and Chance Ruffin combined for 11 strikeouts and surrendered two hits through eight innings.
But with a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth, the floodgates opened. The Sky Sox scored six runs off Ruffin – all earned – for a 9-3 victory in front of 3,039 fans at Cheney Stadium.
Colorado led 3-2 after three innings before Luis Jiminez’s line drive to center field tied the game in the bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth, it all came apart.
After working a scoreless eighth, Ruffin started the ninth with a leadoff walk to Tommy Field. Ruffin struck out Chad Tracy, and then was drilled in the leg by a Hernan Iribarren line drive for a single. It was the Sky Sox’s first hit since a three-run third inning.
The runners moved up a base on a Ruffin wild pitch. Then Wil Nieves hit a ground ball to second base and when Scott Savastano’s throw home was late, Field scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice.
Another walk by Ruffin, followed by a hit batter made the score 5-3. Another walk pushed the Sky Sox lead to 6-3, which brought on a pitching change.
Oliver Perez replaced the wild Ruffin, and managed to get the ball over the plate. And Matt McBride cleared the bases with a triple to deep center field to make it 9-3.
The Sky Sox offensive explosion consisted of four hits, but they were aided by eight walks, two wild pitches and a hit by pitch from Tacoma pitchers.
A day after Tacoma produced 22 hits in a 15-5 win, the Rainiers got eight hits, and went four innings without getting a runner in scoring position.
Robles went 42/3 innings in his second start of the season, giving up three runs on two hits and four walks, while striking out five on 90 pitches.
Andrew Brown doubled to deep center field off Robles in the third inning, driving in two runs to give the Sky Sox the 3-2 lead.
The Rainiers had built a 2-0 lead on first-inning solo home runs by Jimenez and Trayvon Robinson.
Tacoma begins its first trip of the season with a four-game stop in Fresno. The Rainiers will send right-hander Forrest Snow (0-1, 7.20 ERA) to the mound against Fresno righty Andrew Kown (1-0, 1.80). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on 850-AM and at www.tacomarainiers.com.