Tacoma Rainiers infielder Shawn O’Malley knows a thing or two about Salt Lake City, having been a Triple-A All-Star for the Salt Lake Bees in 2014.
So once he set foot in Smith’s Ballpark, he felt very comfortable.
O’Malley went 2 for 3 with a triple and scored three runs as the Rainiers held on for a 4-3 Pacific Coast League victory Monday night in the opening game of an eight-game trip.
It was the fourth win in the last five games for the Rainiers, who played well despite a tumultuous day of roster moves.
O’Malley bunted for a single that started a two-run rally in the third inning against Salt Lake starter Nick Tropeano. He walked, stole second, and scored on Ketel Marte’s two-out single in the fifth. In the seventh, he hit the first of back-to-back triples (along with James Jones) as the Rainiers took a 4-2 lead.
Playing second base, O’Malley made the final putout as the Rainiers survived a threatening bottom of the ninth.
Salt Lake scored a run and loaded the bases with two outs after an error extended the inning. Lucas Luetge faced clean-up hitter Josh Rutledge with the game on the line.
“I didn’t worry about it when they got that run,” said O’Malley. “I had all of the confidence in Luetge, and he got it done.”
Rutledge pulled a soft one-hopper to shortstop. Marte fielded the ball and threw to O’Malley for the force out at second — a very close play, with the Rainiers getting the call for the final out of the game.
“It was close, but we got him,” O’Malley said. “I couldn’t tell because my back was to the runner, so I just tried to come off (the base) as quickly as I could to sell it.”
Left-hander Mike Montgomery (2-2) had another strong start for the Rainiers, going seven inning and allowing just two runs. He issued one walk while striking out eight, and threw 97 pitches.
“He was solid, he went seven innings and did a good job,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach. “He was really good and efficient.”
The win left Tacoma three games below .500. The team’s road record improved to 5-8.
“Winning the first game of the trip takes some of the pressure off us,” Listach said. “The guys played good baseball, and the pitching was good.”
The Rainiers had a bevy of roster moves before the game. Seattle optioned relievers Yoervis Medina and Tyler Olson to Tacoma, and called up relievers Joe Beimel and Mark Lowe, as well as infielder Chris Taylor. Tacoma added utility player Leury Bonilla from Double-A Jackson. Pitcher Mike Kickham was designated for assignment so is unavailable while he’s on waivers. Also, outfielder Julio Morban is away from the team for personal reasons and was placed on the restricted list. Tacoma was left with 21 active players for Monday’s game.
Jordan Pries (2-1, 6.84 ERA) starts in the second game of the series for Tacoma against Salt Lake’s Drew Rucinski (0-0, 5.79). First pitch is set for 5:35 (PDT). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.