Pries wows as Rainiers split doubleheader

Staff writerApril 21, 2014 

Leury Bonilla hit a game-winning single, and Jordan Pries turned heads on the mound in his Triple-A debut as the Tacoma Rainiers split a doubleheader with the Sacramento River Cats on Sunday.

The Rainiers (9-7) took a 1-0 victory from the River Cats in the bottom of the ninth when Bonilla smacked a bases-loaded single over Hiro Nakajima’s head in the extra-inning opener. Tacoma was then clobbered by Sacramento, 8-3, in the seven-inning night game.

The opener was a nice introduction for Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Pries as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Pries, a 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander out of Alameda, Calif., was called up from Double-A Jackson on Saturday to replace Brandon Maurer, who was recalled to the Mariners’ roster for a spot start Sunday in Miami. He posted a 1-0 record with a 1.50 earned-run average through 12 innings with Jackson.

“He looked great. … He had no hits through five or six innings,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “You know, I had Jordan before. … He attacks the zone and both sides of the plate. He works the box really well, and he did a nice job out there today.”

Howell was the hitting coach at Jackson before being promoted to the Rainiers as their new manager March 12.

Pries, a 30th-round pick in 2011 by the Mariners, kept the River Cats (11-6) off balance all game long. His fastball and cutter often caused weak contact with the ball, rarely making it past the infield.

“My plan of attack was to get ahead with the fastball and then kind of work the other pitches in,” Pries said. “Basically it was just keeping it simple out there.”

Pries had a no-decision after six innings of work, allowing no runs, one hit and two walks while striking out two.

Pries’ no-hit bid was broken up with two outs in the top of the sixth, when Shane Peterson roped a low liner between Ty Kelly and Chris Taylor. It was the only hit Pries allowed.

After a walk, Pries got Jake Goebbert to ground out to first baseman Bonilla for the force out to end the threat.

Early in his start, Pries walked River Cats first baseman Nate Freiman. After the walk, veteran catcher Jesus Sucre came out to the mound to give some advice to the Rainiers’ young hurler.

“He said to keep it simple and slow myself down,” Pries said. “He’s great. … He’s been doing it for years. He got some big league time; he knows how to handle a pitching staff. It’s always a calming factor working with a veteran who knows what he’s doing.”

Howell agreed with the assessment.

“That’s a veteran catcher, and with a young pitcher out there making his debut, you have to give credit where credit is due,” Howell said. “Jordan has a tendency to work a little too fast. … He slowed down and did a really nice job out there today.”

The second game of the doubleheader was a little more offense-friendly, though not so much for the Rainiers.

Sacramento won after the Rainiers gifted the River Cats with eight walks.

Tacoma starter James Gillheeney (1-2) didn’t have his best stuff as he was smacked around in the first and third innings before giving way to Zach Miner.

Gillheeney surrendered four runs on five hits and allowing four walks through 2 innings. He also had four strikeouts.

Miner didn’t fare much better, giving up a screaming three-run homer off Goebbert’s bat that pushed a one-run Sacramento lead to 7-3.

Sacramento added a run in the sixth inning when Anthony Aliotti hit a sacrifice to Kelly at second base.

Jose Flores closed out the seventh for Sacramento after striking out Manuel Pina and Kelly to end the game.

SHORT HOPS

Saturday’s rainout marked the fifth time a Rainiers game was called because of rain so far this season. ... Chris Taylor, the Mariners’ No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America, has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games after collecting a hit in both games Sunday. Taylor finished 3-for-8 with a double and a run on the day. ... “Until I see him walk through the door, I don’t expect anything for Tuesday,” said Howell on whether right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will make an expected rehabilitation start that day.

ON TAP

The Rainiers will send left-hander Anthony Fernandez (0-1, 3.77 ERA) to the mound to face River Cats right-hander Zach Neal (1-0, 3.00) on Monday. The game starts at 6:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on 850-AM.

kevin.manning@ thenewstribune.com

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