Tacoma first baseman D.J. Peterson will always remember the day he went 5 for 5 — mostly because he hit an inside-the-park home run off an outfielder’s head.
Peterson’s big day came in a series-opening 9-2 Rainiers win over El Paso on Wednesday night at Southwest University Park.
Already with three hits in the bag, Peterson led off the seventh inning against El Paso reliever — and former Seattle Mariner — Brandon Morrow.
Peterson launched a deep fly ball to right-center field, near the 384-foot mark, with Chihuahuas center fielder Auston Bousfield and right fielder Hunter Renfroe in hot pursuit.
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Bousfield attempted a leaping catch at the wall — and the ball bounced of the wall, hit Bousfield’s head and caromed sharply along the base of the outfield fence back toward the right field foul pole. With a stunned Bousfield laying on the warning track, Renfroe chased the ball back to the right field corner. Peterson was halfway home before Renfroe picked up the ball.
“I had no idea. I thought it may be a double because I hit it pretty well, and I saw Pat (Listach, in the third base coach’s box) saying, ‘Come on,’ ” Peterson said. “I just kept running as fast as I could.”
Bousfield slowly walked off the field under his own power after the play.
The inside-the-park homer was the most memorable moment of Peterson’s big game. He doubled in the fourth and scored on a double by Zach Shank, tying the game at 1-1. In the fifth inning, his two-out, two-run single gave Tacoma a 4-1 lead.
Batting right behind Peterson in the lineup, Shank went 4 for 5 and boosted his batting average to .337.
The Rainiers had 17 hits in the game, and El Paso even used infielder Taylor Lindsey to pitch the ninth inning.
“Not all of them were hit hard — we had a lot of things go in our favor today,” Listach said. “We had a rabbit’s foot in our hats today.”
Tacoma starter Sam Gaviglio had his second consecutive strong outing against El Paso, allowing one run over six innings to earn his first Triple-A win of the season. Gaviglio tossed seven scoreless innings against El Paso last Friday at Cheney Stadium.
Tacoma improved to 65-46, matching its season-high mark of 19 games over .500. … The Famous Chicken made a rare appearance — the legendary mascot is in semi-retirement. Gaviglio pitched a scoreless frame during the Chicken’s inning as the first base coach, in which he was taunted relentlessly.
The second game of the series is at 6:05 p.m. (PDT) Thursday. Tacoma’s starter is unannounced. El Paso will start Aaron Northcraft (5-1, 4.70 ERA).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.