Zach Shank notches pinch-hit grand slam in the fourth inning
EL PASO, Texas – The Tacoma Rainiers (9-6) set season-high marks in both hits and runs in an 11-8 victory of the El Paso Chihuahuas (7-9) on Friday night at Southwest University Park.
Second baseman Zach Shank (1-for-2, R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB) and first baseman Daniel Vogelbach (2x6, 2 RBI) combined to drive in over half of the Rainiers runs. Tacoma also picked up multi-hit performances from designated hitter Dario Pizzano (2-for-[3, 2 R, 2 BB) and shortstop Tyler Smith (2x5, 2 R, RBI).
Steve Cishek, on rehab assignment from Seattle, started the game for Tacoma and faced four batters – he recorded two outs, walked two, and allowed one hit.
The Rainiers got to El Paso starting pitcher Bryan Rodriguez early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before he could record the first out of the game. Center fielder Boog Powell led off the night with a single into left and moved into scoring position as second baseman Gordon Beckham drew a hit by pitch in the next plate appearance. Vogelbach brought them both home in the following at bat, rocketing a two-run double into left field.
Another two-run double, this time off the bat of Chihuahuas shortstop Dusty Coleman in the bottom of the second inning, tied up the contest at 2-2. El Paso promptly took a 4-2 lead in the next inning with a two-run home run from Jamie Romak, his seventh dinger of the year.
The Rainiers pushed across five runs in the top of the fourth inning to pull away from the Chihuahuas. Smith smacked an RBI double into left field to score right fielder Ben Gamel from third base for the first run. Powell drew a walk two batters later to load the bases for Shank, who blasted a grand slam onto the left field party deck to give Tacoma a 7-4 lead. The long bomb from Shank was the second grand slam in as many nights for the Rainiers, and the club’s first pinch-hit home run since Luis Rodriguez hit one against Colorado Springs on July 15, 2012.
The score held at a 7-5 advantage in favor of Tacoma until the final two frames of the night, when the two clubs combined to score eight runs across the eighth and ninth innings. An El Paso fielding error led to a run for Tacoma in the top of the eighth, and Rafael Ortega earned the run back in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Collin Cowgill.
Third baseman D.J. Peterson blasted his third home run in five games to lead off the top of the ninth for the Rainiers. A Tuffy Gosewisch RBI single and a dropped pop-fly double play hit into by Vogelbach scraped across a third run, pushing Tacoma’s lead out to 11-5.
El Paso briefly clawed back into the game with a trio of runs scored on an RBI single by Cory Spangenberg and a two-run home run by Jamie Romak, turning in the final margin of 11-8.
Brett Ash (3.2), making his Triple-A debut, allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts in relief of Cishek – he earned his first career Triple-A win. Ryne Harper contributed 1.2 innings of scoreless, two-hit work out of the bullpen before giving way to Emilio Pagan (2.0), who surrendered one run on two hits. Nick Hagadone (1.0) closed out the night for Tacoma, allowing three runs on three hits (one home run) with one strikeout.
Tacoma now heads to Albuquerque for a four-game series against the Isotopes starting tomorrow. Right-hander Christian Bergman (2-0, 2.31) gets the call for the Rainiers, while the Isotopes will turn to righty Matt Flemer (1-1, 5.06). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.