Colorado Springs, CO - The Tacoma Rainiers (32-21) edged the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (30-20) by the score of 5-4 on Tuesday evening at Security Service Field in front of 5,062 energized fans. The win moves Tacoma a half game in front of the Springs for first place in the Pacific Northern Division.
The game was a back-and-forth affair with plenty of intrigue. A key point in the game turned out to be a close play at the plate that didn’t go the Sky Sox way. Sox leadoff hitter Corey Dickerson tripled to lead off the fifth inning with the Sox trailing 2-1. The next batter Josh Rutledge lifted a medium fly ball to center field and Dickerson attempted to tag and score. The throw home from Corey Patterson was a good one and catcher Mike Zunino made a solid effort at a swipe tag but the elusive Dickerson made an amazing effort to avoid the tag and as he slid past Zunino he reached quickly with his off hand and slapped at the plate. Unfortunately, the home plate umpire ruled he didn’t touch and Zunino applied the tag to record the out. It was an extremely close play and slow motion instant replays of the play seemed to show Dickerson touching the tip of the plate but making that call in real time at full speed certainly was a challenge and Tacoma won out on the play. That lone run would turn out to be very important in the final outcome.
In the sixth, the Sky Sox would take the lead on two mammoth home runs from two hot-hitting Sox. Matt McBride led off the inning with a laser shot over the left field wall to tie things up and give him 10 homers in the month of May. That total actually matches the number of homers that McBride hit last season with the Sky Sox in 108 games. One out later, Ben Paulsen smacked his fourth homer in his last five games to put Colorado Springs up 3-2.
The lead would be short lived however as Zunino led off the seventh with a solo homer of his own to dead center, his ninth bomb of the season. Tacoma tacked on two more runs in the inning on a RBI single by Stefan Romero and an infield grounder by Alex Liddi and took a 5-3 lead. Sox starter Drew Carpenter (0-1) surrendered two of the three runs and ended up taking his first loss as a Sky Sox.
A McBride sac fly in the bottom half of the seventh would cut the lead to 5-4 but the Sox would be unable to scratch across the tying run after that.
Jeremy Bonderman started for the Rainiers but didn’t factor in the decision as he lasted just four innings while giving up just one run on four hits. Brian Sweeney (6-1) picked up the win in relief after working 2.2 innings. Logan Bawcomm notched his eighth save of the year after retiring the final two outs of the game.
Game two of the series is set for tomorrow night at 7:05 PM. RH Chris Volstad (2-0, 4.02) will take the mound for the Sky Sox opposite RH Andrew Carraway (5-1, 2.98) for Tacoma.
Sky Sox Notes: Corey Dickerson finished the game 3-for-5 with a triple, his PCL-leading eighth triple of the season… Matt McBride now has more homers (10) on the season than strikeouts (9)… Josh Rutledge has doubled in three straight games… The two teams combined to turn six double plays on the night (three each)