After totaling 20 runs and 20 hits in a victory over Salt Lake Thursday night, the Tacoma Rainiers’ hitting pace was slowed throughout most of their low-scoring contest against the Fresno Grizzlies Friday night at Cheney Stadium.
But Tacoma’s six hits meant little after Abraham Almonte’s walkoff hit gave Tacoma the 3-2 win after 10 innings.
“The guys kept battling, pitching on both sides was outstanding, guys kept working hard,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “It just came down to execution. They had opportunities, so did we. (Gabriel) Noriega gets a big base hit. Hooray for us.”
Rainiers’ third baseman Gabriel Noriega was 0-for-3 entering the bottom of the 10th before he roped a single into center field.
Leury Bonilla followed with a sacrifice bunt which advanced Noriega to second, and then Xavier Avery grounded out to move Noriega to third.
Almonte then hammered a shot to right field to send Noriega home for the victory.
“I try to make it simple. (I) think: ‘Don’t get too excited and just keep it simple and try to get a good swing and don’t try to be a hero and hit the ball 400 feet,” Almonte said. “It worked for me. I was excited.”
It was the Rainiers’ 13th extra-inning contest of the season, which is two more than any other team in the Pacific Coast League.
Almonte led off the first inning with a single and then advanced to third after Ty Kelly roped another to center field. Stefen Romero followed with a sacrifice fly to score Almonte.
Rainiers’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez held Adam Duvall, who leads the league with 26 home runs and 77 RBIs, to only one hit on the night.
Tacoma catcher Humberto Quintero, who has gone 10-for-24 over his past six games with only one strikeout, hammered an RBI double in the second to score Chris Taylor.
Fresno catcher Guillermo Quiroz capitalized by grounding out to score Duvall to close Tacoma’s lead to 2-1.
Grizzlies second baseman Tony Abreu hammered a solo home run in the fifth inning to tie the game, 2-2.
Ramirez escaped further damage by forcing a ground out by Mark Minicozzi to end the fifth.
Ramirez, who struggled with the Seattle Mariners this year posting a 4.58 ERA over 53 innings before being optioned to Tacoma, scattered three hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking three.
Rainiers’ right-handed reliever Todd Coffey entered in the top of the ninth and allowed two hits and a walk to load the bases. Coffey escaped the pinch by striking Ford out swinging to end the inning.
Carson Smith relieved Coffey in the 10th inning and struck out two Fresno players to end the inning after allowing a leadoff hit.
The Rainiers will continue their three-game homestand against Fresno on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma is expected to start right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-1, 4.11 ERA) against right-hander Chris Heston (7-4, 3.70).