OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma City coaching staff called it a “snatcher.”
That seems like a good word for what the RedHawks did to the Tacoma Rainiers on Wednesday afternoon at Bricktown Ballpark.
Trailing by six runs with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Oklahoma rallied for to tie and then won the game in the tenth inning, 7-6.
It was a stunning turnabout in a game that the Rainiers seemed to have all sewn up since the fourth inning.
“We snatched that one,” said grinning RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco, whose team has won nine straight home games. “Once a year you might have a comeback like that.”
The Rainiers were stunned.
James Paxton started and delivered five scoreless innings. He left with a 4-0 lead, courtesy of a two-out RBI single by Scott Savastano followed by Nate Tenbrink’s three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Brian Sweeney followed Paxton and carried the shutout into the eighth, when he was removed after retiring the leadoff batter in favor of Bobby LaFromboise, who quickly got the next two outs to end the eighth with a 5-0 lead.
Denny Almonte – who had homered in the seventh – doubled in the ninth, and scored on an Eric Thames single to make it 6-0.
In the bottom of the ninth, LaFromboise got the first two batters to fly out, before Marc Krauss singled.
Tacoma was a strike away from a shutout when Jason Jaramillo lined a 0-2 pitch down the right field line for an RBI double.
LaFromboise got ahead in the count 0-2 on each of the next two hitters – but he eventually walked both of them, loading the bases. Cody Clark then singled to right, driving in a run to make it 6-2 and bring the tying run to the plate.
RedHawks leadoff man Jonathan Villar hit the first pitch from LaFromboise over the center field fence for a grand slam, tying the game 6-6.
“That’s clutch hitting right there,” said DeFrancesco. “He got a good fastball up in the zone, and he popped it to center.”
LaFromboise – who entered the game with a 0.00 ERA – was charged with all six runs.
“Obviously I left the pitcher in too long in the ninth,” said Rainiers manager John Stearns. “That was his last hitter. I thought he could get him out.”
The RedHawks (20-12) won it in the tenth inning on a throwing error by shortstop Nick Franklin. Brandon Laird doubled, and he was at third base with two outs when Andy Simunic hit a one-hop liner to short. Franklin fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw pulled Rich Poythress off the first base bag allowing the winning run to score.
The question now, is how will Tacoma (21-13) bounce back?
“We’ve all been through this in the game, you lose some games you should win,” said Stearns. “It won’t be hard. We’ll just come back tomorrow and get back in the groove.”
Four regulars were not in the starting lineup. Carlos Triunfel, Mike Zunino, Poythress and Stefen Romero all started the day on the bench. … Poythress ended up playing after Carlos Peguero sprained his ankle legging out an infield single in the fourth inning.
The series continues Thursday at 5:05 p.m. (PDT). Tacoma starts Blake Beavan (0-1, 9.00) against Oklahoma City’s Asher Wojciechowski (0-0, 2.25). The game will be broadcast on 850 AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers