Tacoma Rainiers left-hander Ryan Feierabend didn't have a great view of the key play in the deciding game of the Pacific Coast League semifinals. He just knew it was "weird."
A two-base error charged to first baseman Tommy Everidge after he unwittingly tossed the ball into the crowd allowed the go-ahead run to score Sunday as Tacoma advanced to the Championship Series with a 4-1 triumph over the Sacramento River Cats.
With the score tied in the seventh inning, 1-1, the Rainiers had a runner at first with one out. With Mike Wilson running on the pitch, Jose Yepez hit a grounder to shortstop Eric Sogard, who flipped to second baseman Corey Wimberly. Wilson was called safe, but Wimberly's relay was in time to get Yepez.
Everidge, thinking the double play had been completed, tossed the ball into the seats behind the first-base dugout. Wilson was awarded two bases, and Tacoma -- the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate -- was six outs away from its first PCL Finals appearance since 2005.
"It was really weird," Feierabend said. "We didn't know if the [umpire] was calling him out or safe at second. Obviously, the other team thought he was out. I assumed he was called out, then (Everidge) threw the ball into the crowd. It was huge to take the lead going into the eighth inning."
With Feierabend producing his best start of the season, Matt Mangini padded the Rainiers' lead with a two-run homer in the eighth.
"It was awesome," Feierabend said. "It really lifted us. Taking the lead was huge; to have to more insurance runs going into the ninth and having Josh Lueke come in and close it out was great."
Pitching in the decisive game of a playoff series was a bonus for Feierabend (1-0), who is less than 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery.
"Most games [this season] have been me coming out, being healthy and not worrying about the outcome," he said. "My main goal was to come out healthy. But I realized Tommy John surgery is in the past. To pitch Game 5 and put on a performance like I did, no other performance ranks as highly as this one."
In his longest outing since April 2008, the 25-year-old southpaw allowed one run on two hits over eight innings. He struck out four, did not walk a batter and made just one mistake, serving up a solo homer to Chris Carter that gave Sacramento a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
"With him being a good fastball hitter, I figured I'd throw a changeup. Unfortunately, I left it up," Feierabend said. "But solo shots don't kill you."
That one didn't prove fatal, thanks to Mangini, who tied it an inning later by singling home Dustin Ackley.
"Today, it was just fastball, changeup," Feierabend said. "I figured, let's just throw fastball, changeup until it hurts. And it didn't really hurt me until I gave up a home run to Carter. I threw in a couple of two-seamers and a couple of breaking balls."
Pitching on three days' rest, Sacramento's Clay Mortensen allowed one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. Lenny DiNardo (0-1) was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on two hits in 1 2/3 frames.
Up next for the Rainiers are the Memphis Redbirds. If facing the defending PCL champions coming off a three-game sweep of Oklahoma City isn't a daunting enough task, Tacoma must play all five games in Memphis while Cheney Stadium undergoes renovations.
"To play on the road all five games is going to be difficult. We'll take it in stride," Feierabend said. "We'll treat the home games like home games and the road games like road games."