The Tacoma Rainiers’ first two leads didn’t hold up so well, but the third one worked out just fine in a 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
Tacoma had a 4-1 lead at the seventh inning stretch, only to see Fresno score four runs — taking the lead on an unlikely three-run homer from No. 9 hitter Nolan Fontana.
The Rainiers answered with two runs in the top of the eighth. Tacoma tied the game on a wild pitch by Fresno reliever James Hoyt that allowed Daniel Robertson to score, and took the lead with one out when Tyler Smith beat the throw home on Boog Powell’s grounder to a drawn-in first baseman.
But the 6-5 lead wasn’t any good, either.
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Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, Andrew Aplin hit a pop fly to the pitcher’s mound. Normally smooth-fielding first baseman Efren Navarro called off everyone to make the catch — and dropped the ball. Aplin ended up at second base.
Aplin moved to third on a deep fly out and scored on Fontana’s single through a drawn-in infield, sending the game to extra innings at 6-6.
Tacoma scored in the 10th against Fresno reliever Jandel Gustave. Ed Lucas was hit by a pitch with one out, and he advanced to second when a pitch got past catcher Tyler Heineman. Robertson beat out a weak grounder to shortstop for an infield single, putting runners at first and third.
After Robertson stole second base, the Grizzlies intentionally walked Tyler Smith to set up a forceout at home plate with Boog Powell coming up.
Powell fell behind in the count, 0-2, then fouled off a couple of pitches before pulling a fly ball to right field. It was deep enough to score Lucas from third base, and Tacoma had its third — and final — lead.
Blake Parker made it stand up, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the 10th to earn his sixth save.
The win raised the Rainiers’ record to 19-13. Tacoma leads the Pacific North Division by 5 1/2 games over Fresno, the defending PCL champion.
It was Taco Tuesday at Chukchansi Park, and the home team played as its alter-ego: the Fresno Tacos. The team wore jerseys that read “Tacos” across the front and hats that bore taco logo. The team’s mascot, a yellow bear named Parker, was dressed as a taco. … Tacoma improved to 2-0 in extra-innings games.
The teams play again at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday. Tacoma starts James Paxton (4-2, 2.93 ERA) against Fresno’s Mike Hauschild (2-3, 4.55).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.