For the second time in as many games, the Tacoma Rainiers went into extra innings against the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
And for the second time, the Rainiers came away with a 4-3 win, this time when Nick Franklin scored Ty Kelly from third base in the 10th to win Sunday at Cheney Stadium.
“Both pitching staffs have been great the last two games,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “Defense has been good, and at the bottom end, something good happened on our side.”
The something good in this case was Kelly getting on base with no outs in the 10th. He was able to advance to second on a wild pitch, and then took third on a groundout by Ji-Man Choi, who had replaced Justin Smoak before the start of the 10th.
Xavier Nady struck out to bring Franklin to the plate. After battling off three pitches, Franklin connected on a shot that skidded past the RedHawks’ second baseman to score Kelly.
“I just saw the ball and was looking for a good pitch to hit,” he said. “Fastball away, and I swung.”
Franklin has been struggling through a slump. He went 1-for-5 on Sunday and is now 2 for his past 22.
“Hopefully that right there gets him kick-started,” Howell said of the hit. “It’s a mental thing, and he battled his rear end off right there. He fouled the pitch before off into their dugout, so he was battling.”
The game started off much like Saturday’s, as well, with the Rainiers trailing.
Tacoma pitcher Jordan Pries faced off with the RedHawks’ Nick Tropeano. In the beginning at least, it was Tropeano who had the advantage.
The RedHawks struck first, when Ronny Torreyes scored on a double by L.J. Hoes in the opening inning.
Oklahoma City scored again on Pries in the third. Torreyes took third after being awarded a balk (after which Rainiers pitching coach Jaime Navarro was ejected), and he and Hoes came home when Marc Krauss doubled to the right-field corner, giving the RedHawks a 3-0 lead.
But Tropeano slipped up in the bottom half of the inning, when he gave up a triple to Michael Saunders that scored Xavier Avery from first. Saunders then took advantage of a sacrifice fly by Justin Smoak to pull Tacoma within 3-2.
Pries “didn’t have his best stuff, but he knew we needed to get five or six innings out of him,” Howell said.
The Rainiers tied it the next inning, when Gabriel Noriega poked a blooper to right that got stuck under a chair, allowing Chris Taylor to scamper from first to home.
Tacoma and Oklahoma City play the third of their four-game series at 6:05 p.m. Monday. The Rainiers send left-hander James Gillheeney (3-6, 5.36 ERA) against right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (0-0, 4.91). The game can be heard on 850-AM.