In just his 10th Triple-A game, Tacoma’s Leon Landry led off the ninth inning of a tie game knowing one thing: He needed to get on base.
Landry looked to the mound and saw his former college teammate, Louis Coleman of Omaha. The duo helped lead Louisiana State University to the 2009 College World Series championship.
Landry worked a full count, fouled off a pitch, and then pulled a clean base hit to right field.
After a Pat Kivlehan single and a sacrifice bunt, Carlos Rivero lined out to left field, deep enough for Landry to tag and score the go-ahead run, and Tacoma held on for a 4-3 victory at Omaha.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Rainiers.
“I just wanted to get on base,” Landry said. “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking this is my old buddy, and I kind of have an idea of what he likes to throw in certain situations. It was a 3-2 slider, he left it up, and I caught it on the barrel.”
Rainiers starting pitcher Mike Montgomery was a member of the Omaha club in 2011 and 2012, and he was making his first start against his former team. He limited Omaha to two hits through five scoreless innings before Omaha touched him for a pair of runs in the sixth.
“We needed a start like that,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “Montgomery was coming off strep throat, and he battled for six innings. If he wasn’t sick and on medication, we would have sent him out for another inning.”
Montgomery left after six innings with a 3-2 lead, thanks to a two-out, two-run triple by James Jones in the fifth inning and a two-out RBI double by Kivlehan in the sixth.
Omaha tied the game in the seventh inning against Tacoma reliever Kevin Gregg. Whit Merrifield drew a one-out walk, then stole both second and third without drawing so much as a glance in his direction from Gregg. He scored the tying run on a sac fly by Rey Fuentes.
Dominic Leone (1-1) earned the win for Tacoma, delivering scoreless relief in the eighth and ninth. He allowed two singles with two outs in the ninth before getting Lane Adams to fly out to Landry for the game’s final out.
The Rainiers are scheduled to send Steve Landazuri (0-0, 10.57) to the mound on Wednesday at 4:35 (PDT). Omaha is expected to start John Lamb (4-1, 3.55).
Mike Curto is the Tacoma Rainiers radio broadcaster.