Those in attendance at Cheney Stadium on Tuesday night witnessed its confines take the form of a ring, and its subjects — the Tacoma Rainiers and Oklahoma City Dodgers — trade blows like bona fide prize fighters.
Tacoma struck first in the opening inning, Oklahoma City reclaimed the lead in the fourth. Rainiers went up in the seventh, and the Dodgers grabbed the lead back in the eighth, setting up the knockout punch.
Guillermo Heredia connected on a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth, spurring the Rainiers to a 5-4 victory and pushing their winning streak to a season-best eight games.
A knockout punch? More like a walk-off punch.
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When Heredia made contact with the ball, he felt something inside that he’s never felt before, he said via a translator. He added that he’s content with his work up until this point, and it finally paid off.
Right before that pitch, his confidence was up, Heredia continued. He had seen Oklahoma City reliever Jacob Rhame work against the first couple batters in the inning, he made the adjustment.
The ball made an adjustment, too, rocketing over the fence in left-center field.
“It was one of those (hits) that sounded good,” said hitting coach Scott Brosius, who served as acting manager Tuesday. “(Heredia) was fastball ready. We knew this was a guy (Rhame) who kind of lived and died with his fastball, so he did a great job of going out there with a plan and put a great swing on the pitch.”
The back-and-forth scoring started in the first inning, when Mike Zunino’s RBI double plated Heredia, bringing the 25-year-old Cuban all the way around from first for an early lead.
Oklahoma City regained the lead with runs in both the third and fourth inning — the first self-inflicted by the Rainiers. Second baseman Zach Shank overthrew overthrew D.J. Peterson at first base, allowing Oklahoma City’s Brandon Hicks to score. An RBI single by Matt Venable in the fourth put the Dodgers up 2-1.
Both teams endured a two-inning scoring drought, in no small part of the starting pitchers.
Tacoma starter Jordan Pries retired six straight batters, extending his start through six innings. He allowed six hits, two runs (both earned) and a walk conceded, and tacked on four strikeouts. Dodgers starter Logan Bawcom, who spent much of 2013-2015 with the Rainiers, also gave up one run with four hits, three walks and two strikeouts. Bawcom’s six innings pitched is a career-high.
Manager Pat Listach served a one-game suspension Tuesday due to an ejection in Sunday’s victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Brosius served as acting manager. … Heredia sported the team’s longest hit streak, eight games, approaching Tuesday’s game and extended it to nine. Heredia was 3 for 4 with three RBIs on Tuesday.
Right-hander Cody Martin (8-5, 3.63 ERA) starts for the Rainiers against Oklahoma City righty Jose De Leon (2-0, 3.06) on Wednesday. Start time is set for 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on 850 AM.