Tacoma Rainiers

Romero hits sacrifice fly to beat Cubs, 5-4, in 14-inning marathon

Stefen Romero ran and tried to escape his teammates’ attempts to splash water on him as they chased him around the field.

That’s because Romero was on fire, but not in the literal sense.

He had just hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to score Ketel Marte as the Tacoma Rainiers beat the Iowa Cubs, 5-4, in a 14-inning, 5 hour, 31 minute marathon Sunday night at Cheney Stadium.

Romero had hit in 13 consecutive games — a team high — before coming off the bench to hit the game-winner.

“Everybody wants to be that guy to get it done,” Romero said. “Fortunately, I was put in that position. You just try to stick to your approach and whatever happens, happens.

“We had Marte, who is a pretty good runner, to make the play. I give it up to the bullpen who came in and held them really well, and the guys in the last inning who got on base.”

Tacoma’s Ty Kelly drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 14th inning to tie the game at 4.

The Rainiers overcame a three-run deficit to get to extra innings.

Trailing 3-0 in the seventh, Ji-Man Choi knocked in a leadoff home run, which was followed by a two-out, two-run homer from Corey Hart to tie the game.

The Rainiers loaded the bases in the ninth — on three walks — and again in the 11th, but grounded out both times. They also twice stranded runners on third base and had two hits in the extra innings.

The run that gave Iowa at 4-3 lead in the fourth came on a single to right that scored Ryan Kalish, who opened the inning with a double.

Tacoma’s defense remained stout during the final stretch, however, and Andrew Carraway — who yielded Iowa’s final run — prevented the Cubs from adding further damage with two strikeouts.

But the Rainiers wasted an opportunity when Choi struck out looking to end the 10th after Justin Smoak punched his fourth hit of the night to right field.

Hart, in his second rehabilitation start in Tacoma, was among the list of missed opportunities.

He had the perfect opportunity to get the Rainiers on the board in the fifth with runners on first and third and the Rainiers trailing, 3-0.

Hart punched a one-hopper to Bryant at third, who threw to first to ended the inning. A better chance would come a little later.

Hart’s homer to the “R” Yard to tie the game was about as good of a return as Hart could have hoped.

He missed almost a month after being placed on the Mariners disabled list on Aug. 2 with a bruised right knee.

Hart’s night was finished after four at-bats. He went 1-for-4.

Logan Bawcom relieved Blake Beavan in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings — including back-to-back strikeouts in the ninth before departing. Todd Coffey struck out Junior Lake with a fastball to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied at 3.

The Rainiers trailed 2-0 after the first when Rainiers starting pitcher Forrest Snow yielded a one-out, two-run home run to Omaha third baseman Kris Bryant.

He retired nine straight batters, but gave up another homer in the fourth.

Iowa starting pitcher Dallas Beeler allowed only five hits through his six innings pitched — Smoak had three of them.

It was the Rainiers’ 17th extra-inning game of the season.

MICHAEL SAUNDERS RECALLED FROM REHAB STINT

The Rainiers announced Sunday that Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders was recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment on Saturday due to a viral infection. He will not be able to rejoin the Rainiers for a minimum of five days.

ON TAP

The Rainiers will continue their final homestand of this season against the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. Monday. The Rainiers are scheduled to start right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57 ERA) against left-hander Eric Jokisch (9-10, 3.63 ERA).

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