Races Alive in M's Farm System:
Tacoma - Horner Comes Through After Puzzling Intentional Walk
In the Pacific Coast League, the Tacoma Rainiers stayed within 3 ½ games of first place Portland with a dramatic 3-2 win over Sacramento.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Rainiers had collected just three hits off of Rivercats starting pitcher Adam Pettyjohn and had reached third base just once.
That changed in the ninth when Jim Horner doubled down the third base line with the bases loaded and two outs. The sharply struck grounder raced past Sacramento 3B Mike Edwards and headed for the left field corner. Jeremy Reed, who doubled off the wall in left-center to lead off the inning, scored easily as did Mickey Lopez from second. Greg Dobbs, who was intentionally walked to set up a righty versus righty matchup, was waved home by manager Dan Rohn and slid home just ahead of the tag of catcher Mike Rivera.
Rainiers manager Dan Rohn, who coaches third base for Tacoma, had no doubt about waving Dobbs home and responded resoundingly to the question of whether he ever thought of holding Dobbs at third.
"Hell no," said Rohn. "I was waving him all the way."
After Reed's double, Lopez blooped a single to right field setting up Zapp's third strikeout of the night and 172nd on the year, for the first out. Ryan Christianson popped out to second to force the hand of the Rivercats, who decided to walk the potential winning run, left-hand hitting Dobbs, to face Jim Horner.
"They've battled all year," said Rohn. "And to come back and do that in the ninth inning after being shut down for eight innings. Tremendous. Like I said, Borders who? We don't need Borders anymore, he is a Twin now."
Bryan Ward (1-0, 4.17) went seven strong innings for the win, allowing just two runs on seven hits. Ward has been solid since joining the Rainiers.
"Ward pitched a good game, he battled his butt," said Rohn. "He was outstanding. When you keep this club down like that. It's a good hitting ball club over there."
Horner stepped to the plate hitting just .186 for the season and considering his struggles and the fact that he is not 100 percent, it was somewhat of a miraculous ending to a well-played game on both sides.
"I was thinking get a good swing," said Horner. "Hit the ball hard somewhere. I haven't hit the ball very good this year so I was just looking to get something up in the zone and hit the ball hard."
Right-hander Jared Hoerman (5-1. 5.34) pitched two scoreless innings for his fifth win since being promoted to Tacoma.
San Antonio - King Felix Dominant in Midst of Pennant Race
Down in Texas, the San Antonio Missions are putting the heat on the Round Rock Express. The Missions sent right-hander Felix Hernandez to the hill versus Tulsa and the 18-year-old was stellar yet again, leading the two-time defending champs to a 6-4 win.
Shin-soo Choo and T.J. Bohn had two hits apiece, including a home run for each, to lead the offensive attack. Choo drove in three and stole his 38th base of the year, and Bohn's home run was over the wall in dead center field where many believe only a handful of player over the last decade have hit long balls. The wall is 402 feet from home plate.
Hernandez (5-1, 3.30) went five innings, allowing a run on just three hits. The phenom struck out eight and walked two while throwing just 75 pitches.
Rick Guttormson (3.11) got the final out for his 25th save.
San Antonio gained a game on West Division leading Round Rock, who lost after giving up three runs in the top of the ninth inning to Wichita.
Inland Empire - Sixty-Sixers Won't Go Away
The Inland Empire 66ers defeated Lancaster 7-5 with two runs in the top of the ninth and moved to within three games of the division-leading Jethawks, with six games to go including two more with Lancaster.
The games are somewhat anti-climactic, especially for Lancaster since they are already guaranteed a playoff spot after winning the first-half in the South Division.
Inland Empire is three games ahead of Lake Elsinore for the only wildcard spot awarded in the California League.
Left-hander Thomas Oldham (3-3, 3.75) tossed eight solid frames for the win and Darwin Soto pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Gary Harris (4-5, 3R, 3B) and Jesus Guzman (4-5, 2-2B, RBI) led the offense with four hits each and Harris led off the game with a triple, scoring on a wild pitch two batters later. It was Harris' 17th triple of the season, leading the California League.
After Lancaster took a 2-1 lead on a two-run home run in the 3rd inning, Inland re-tied it on a single by Matt Rogelstad. Again down by a run, the 66ers took the lead 4-3 on a Jon Nelson RBI single and a throwing error on the Lancaster left fielder.
Inland led 5-4 going into the bottom of the eighth when the Jethawks tied it at five on a double by Sean Luellwitz. Lancaster would have taken the lead on the extra-base hit, but Dan Uggla was thrown out at the plate by Harris, setting up the two run ninth.
The game winner belongs to Jesus Guzman, who doubled in Harris. Jon Nelson (2-5, 2 RBI) added another RBI single to pad the lead.
Everett - Sox Continue Slide
Way up in Everett, the AquaSox fell to Salem-Keizer 9-7 for their third loss in a row and are now 2.5 games back of first place Vancouver with five games to go, all versus Salem-Keizer.
Right-hander Aaron Jensen lasted just 1.2 innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits after being spotted a two-run lead after one inning.
Yung-Chi Chen (2-3, 2R, 2RBI) led the offensive attack that went down swinging 14 times, including three each by Matt Tuiasosopo and Omar Falcon.
The Sox defense, which had been solid all year, committed five errors that led to four unearned runs.
In the Volcanoes five-run second, Everett committed an error and a passed ball that aided in prolonging the inning and allowing for the flood gates to be opened.
Heading into the ninth down 9-5, the AquaSox gave themselves a chance by loading the bases with nobody out. Navarro walked to lead it off, Brandon Green singled, and Marshall Hubbard was hit by a pitch to fill the pond with ducks.
Chen then singled in Navarro and kept the bases filled until Volcanoes reliever Matt Minor uncorked a wild pitch that scored Green and moved Hubbard to third and Chen to second.
With runners on second and third, Asdrubal Cabrera walked to re-load the bases with the score now 9-7. Salem-Keizer went to then pen and brought in Geno Espinelli and the right-hander promptly struck out Tuiasosopo and Mike Wilson.
With two outs, pinch-hitter Casey Craig popped to third to end the threat and the ballgame.
Everett will be scoreboard watching as they need to win and get help from Eugene, who plays Vancouver in each of the last five games.
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