Two three-run frames helped vault the Rafters over the visiting Desert Dogs 7-2 on Tuesday. Salt River (17-12) remains a half game behind Mesa with two games left.
Stephen Piscotty did his part, touching home twice and driving in one. The right fielder came to the plate in the first with a runner on third and a run already across, reaching on a fielder's choice that brought his teammate in from third. A line-drive double to right knocked in Piscotty for the inning's final tally and gave the home squad a 3-1 advantage.
The Rafters expanded their lead with a score in the third by Piscotty. The Stanford product beat out a grounder to short, reaching base with two outs. Two pitching bobbles, an errant pick-off attempt at first and a wild pitch, advanced him to third. He came across on a sharp grounder deep in the hole at short that was deflected by Glendale's third baseman.
Piscotty took advantage of the Desert Dogs hurler's lack of control in the fourth to work the inning's third consecutive base-on-balls, jamming the sacks full with none out. He raced to third on a 5-3 double-play ball but was stranded there when James Ramsey struck out swinging. He finished by grounding into a double play in the sixth. In the field, Piscotty received an assist in nailing a Desert Dog trying to stretch a double into a triple, 9-4-3-5.
Ramsey was hitless in three at bats, continuing his offensive decline. The left fielder has gone 7-for-31 in his last ten games, four of those hits coming in a game on October 29th. On Tuesday, Ramsey's come-backer to the pitcher in the first advanced a runner to third. He walked to load the bases in the third, fanned swinging with Piscotty at third to end the fourth and ground out 6-3 in the seventh.
Drew Hutchison scattered four hits and three free passes over four innings, holding the opposition in a single tally in the first, to up his record to 2-1. The Toronto right-hander struck out four.
Dean Kiekhefer faced the minimum in the seventh. The first batter was retired on a grounder to first with Kiekhefer covering. Kiekhefer pitched around his third baseman's fielding error that put the next Desert Dog on by coaxing a 6-4-3 double play.
Wednesday's game: at third-place Scottsdale (10-19), 7:35 pm CT, Bo Schultz (3-0, 2.22)
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