Jabari Blash was the big hero Saturday night, snapping the Tacoma Rainiers’ losing skid with a game-winning home run in the ninth inning to beat the Fresno Grizzlies, 8-7.
Blash was the leadoff man in the ninth with the score tied. After battling back from a 1-2 count, Blash smashed a towering fly ball that cleared the left field fence in walk-off fashion.
“In that moment, I was just trying to put a good swing on it and hopefully have a chance to win the game for us,” he said.
Rainiers manager Pat Listach said that is was an exceptional at-bat, one of many for Blash since he returned to Triple-A from Double-A Jackson.
The bats finally came alive for Tacoma in the eighth inning after staying quiet for much of the game. The bases were loaded following Blash, Carlos Rivero and John Hicks all safely reaching base.
Leury Bonilla and Ketel Marte both capitalized on the opportunity. Bonilla singled to right field and scored one run. Marte then drove in two more on a well-hit ball to left.
The inning wasn’t over. Jesus Montero smashed a double that scored Bonilla and Marte, bringing the inning’s run tally to five and giving the Rainiers a 7-5 lead.
The lead was lost in the ninth. With one out, Robbie Grossman and Tyler White both reached base off Edgar Olmos. A walk loaded the bases.
Another walk, this one on four pitches, scored one run for the Grizzlies. Matt Duffy then hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game. Logan Bawcom recorded the inning’s final out.
Listach said Olmos was lacking command and got away from his changeup because it wasn’t feeling right.
Forrest Snow got the call for the Rainiers on Saturday. Following lackluster starting pitching performances the previous two nights, Snow conjured up a solid game and gave the Rainiers a chance to win.
Snow was rolling through the Grizzlies lineup. He found himself in a jam in the third after a weakly hit ball and bunt loaded the bases with one out, but he easily dispatched the next two batters to emerge unscathed.
He wouldn’t be as lucky in the fourth. After giving up a ground-ball single to Duffy, Nolan Fontana took him to deep right field on a 2-1 count. That gave the Grizzlies a two-run lead.
Snow allowed five hits and three runs over his five innings pitched, with two walks and three strikeouts.
“We needed to win this game,” Listach said. “This was a big game to win.”
Stefen Romero played in his first game since July 21 against the Grizzlies. He brought in a four-game hitting streak that he extended with a 1 for 3 night… Patrick Kivlehan had safely reached base in six straight games coming into Saturday. That streak ended against Fresno with an 0 for 5 performance… Ketel Marte is still adjusting to playing centerfield. He misplayed a couple of fly balls on Saturday.
The Rainiers’ four-game series with Fresno continues on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Right-hander Jordan Pries (4-3, 5.43 ERA) will start for Tacoma. The Grizzlies will send out left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (3-2, 4.56).