In a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Tri-City ValleyCats on Wednesday, the Wild Things’ hitters could get nothing going. Washington was held to four hits, all singles.
Fast forward to Thursday night and getting the offense going wasn’t the problem for the Wild Things. Stopping the darn thing, now that seemed like it could be a problem.
Washington scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and added two more in the second. The only drama remaining, with dark clouds hovering over Wild Things Park and flashes of lightning in the sky beyond the outfield, was if the Wild Things could move the game along for 4½ innings to make it official before rain began falling.
The rain held off until the sixth inning, and it was only a light sprinkle at that, allowing for all nine innings to be played as the Wild Things pushed the game along for a 12-5 victory over Tri-City before an announced crowd of 1,092.
“It didn’t look good,” Washington manager Tom Vaeth said of rain threat.
The win didn’t help Washington gain ground in the Northeast Division standings. First-place Sussex County rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to defeat New Jersey, 8-7. The Miners still lead Washington by two games.
Tri-City fell 1½ games behind Quebec in the Atlantic Division. Quebec, which has scored at least 10 runs in six of its last seven games, will begin a weekend series at Wild Things Park tonight.
Much of the damage inflicted by the Washington hitters was done by the bottom four batters in the lineup: center fielder Hector Roa, catcher Trevor Casanova, first baseman Tristan Peterson and designated hitter Andrew Czech. They combined to go 11-for-19 with five extra-base hits, seven runs and nine RBI.
Czech was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Roa went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, four runs and three RBI.
Washington had a season-high 19 hits.
“One word: approach,” Vaeth said when asked for the difference in hitters in this game compared to Wednesday. “We had a much better game plan at the plate. We got back to doing what makes us a good offense. We were taking walks, we were hitting the ball up the middle and we were hitting the ball the other way to drive in runs. When we’re all pull, pull, pull, you get what we had Wednesday night.
“It’s important to know what your identity is as an offense. We had a streak this year when we would score five, six, seven runs a night. I asked our guys what is it that we do when we’re scoring runs?”
The Wild Things came up with the answer quickly. In the first inning, Tri-City starter Bruce Bell (0-2) walked two of Washington’s first three hitters, then he really ran into trouble. Bralin Jackson singled to load the bases and Grant Heyman hit a broken-bat single to center field that gave Washington a lead.
Roa then hit a chopper directly over third base that the ValleyCats’ Juan Silverio tried to barehand and throw to first base but he dropped the ball for an error as a run scored. Casanova followed with a single to left center field, and Peterson and Czech hit consecutive doubles down the left-field line to make it 7-0.
In the second, Roa hit a two-run homer to right centerfield that made it 9-1. It was the 10th home run of the season for Roa and his 55th career homer with the Wild Things, tying him for second place on the team’s all-time list with Chris Sidick (2005-11). Jacob Dempsey (2008-11) holds the team record with 57 home runs.
Washington starter Alex Boshers (3-2) went the first five innings, allowing five hits that included a pair of solo home runs, by second baseman Luis Roman in the second inning and first baseman Brad Zunica in the fifth.
Bell threw 124 pitches, allowing 13 hits and 10 runs (nine earned) in five innings. … Czech had an RBI double in the fourth, Roa doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Peterson in the sixth and shortstop Nick Ward singled home Roa in the eighth to round out Washington’s scoring. … McKenzie Mills will pitch the series opener against Quebec with former major leaguer Rob Whalen scheduled to throw in relief of Mills. … Quebec has won 11 in a row and scored 111 runs during the streak.