River Cats pound Ruffin, hand Rainiers 11-7 loss

Contributing writerMay 1, 2014 

— After three days of slumber, the Sacramento River Cats bats woke up.

Sacramento pounded out 14 hits on the way to an 11-7 win over Tacoma on Thursday night, salvaging a split of the four-game series.

The offensive outburst came after Tacoma pitchers held the River Cats to just two earned runs and a .195 batting average over the first three games of the series.

Sacramento even hit two home runs – a notable accomplishment for a team that hit just 11 in its first 26 games, far-and-away the lowest total among the 16 Pacific Coast League teams.

Tacoma (13-12) struck three times in the top of the second inning, with Gabriel Noriega, Xavier Avery, and Chris Taylor each driving in runs to build a 3-0 lead.

But Sacramento designated hitter Kent Matthes pulled a two-run homer down the left field line off Rainiers starter Chance Ruffin in the bottom of the second, making it 3-2. It was the first home run in six games for the River Cats.

Sacramento (15-12) took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning on a two-run double by Nate Freiman. Freiman, who entered the game buried in a 4-for-37 slump, went 3-for-5 with four runs batted in.

Michael Taylor launched a two-run blast off Ruffin in the fifth to make it 7-4, before Sacramento tacked on four more runs against Rainiers reliever Zach Miner in the sixth.

Ruffin (0-3) took the loss for Tacoma, allowing seven runs in five innings. Miner went the rest of the way, sparing the remainder of the Tacoma bullpen.

Sacramento starter Arnold Leon (2-1) picked up the win, despite allowing 10 hits and four runs in five innings.

Infielder Gabriel Noriega continued to swing a hot bat for Tacoma. Noriega went 4-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in, boosting his average to .451.

SHORT HOPS

Outfielder James Jones went 1-for-5, extending his hitting streak to nine games. … Nick Franklin started at designated hitter, the day after being scratched from the starting lineup with a stiff back. … Tacoma entered play with a PCL-leading .308 team batting average.

ON TAP

The Rainiers return to Cheney Stadium for a quick four-game homestand against Las Vegas, starting with Friday’s game at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma starts Erasmo Ramirez (first Triple-A appearance of the season) against Las Vegas right-hander Logan Verrett (1-2, 4.97).

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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