TACOMA, Wash. - During the bottom of the fourth inning of the 2017 CHI Franciscan Health Triple-A All Star Game, Nashville Sounds infielder Renato Nunez turned on the first pitch he saw and hammered it off the face of the R Yard beyond the left field wall, providing a crucial three-run homer that propelled the Pacific Coast League to a 6-4 victory over the International League Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium.
Nunez (1x4, R, 3 RBI, HR) knew that with runners on base, he needed to provide a productive at bat. When the first pitch came his way, the Triple-A home run leader knew exactly what to do.
"With runners in scoring position, you always need to be able to hit," Nunez said. "I was thinking left field, he threw me a changeup, and I was ready to hit it."
Nunez's tremendous at-bat Wednesday night awarded him the 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game MVP for the Pacific Coast League.
Wednesday's contest featured four home runs, eight extra-base knocks, and 21 total hits combined between both rosters filled with exciting prospects. The offensive showcase began with the eventual 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game MVP for the International League, Columbus Clippers infielder Richie Shaffer.
Shaffer (2x3, R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR) launched a solo home run over the right field wall to open the scoring during the top of the second, lifting the International League to a 1-0 lead.
The Pacific Coast League would answer in the bottom half, as Fresno Grizzlies infielder Colin Moran drilled a solo dinger down the right field line to even the score at 1-1.
While the offense stole the show during the middle innings, a few pitchers we able to steal the national spotlight in the beginning of the game. Salt Lake Bees right hander Troy Scribner entered the game in the bottom of the third and struck out the side against some of the most talented hitters in Triple-A.
Tacoma Rainiers reliever Jean Machi took the mound during the fourth and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out two during his one-inning relief appearance.
The PCL ignited a four-run rally on four consecutive base hits that vaulted them to a 5-1 lead during the bottom of the fourth. Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Willie Calhoun led off the frame with a double down the right field line and came around to score when Colorado Springs Sky Sox infielder Garrett Cooper singled to right field, giving the PCL a 2-1 lead. Moran then tallied his second hit of the game and Nashville Sounds outfielder Renato Nunez crushed a line-drive three-run home run off the R Yard to extend the PCL's lead to 5-1.
The slug fest continued into the fifth, when Durham Bulls infielder Willy Adames lifted a solo home run to right center, narrowing the International League deficit to 5-2. Shaffer then added an RBI double to right field that scored Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo and moving the score to 5-3.
Calhoun continued his impressive night with an RBI double of his own to center field during the fifth, scoring Reno Aces infielder Christian Walker and increasing the PCL lead to 6-3.
Tacoma Rainiers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach (0x1) entered the game during the top of the sixth and received a standing ovation during his at-bat, although he struck out on three pitches.
Castillo added his second hit of the ballgame during the top of the seventh, an RBI single to center field that narrowed the IL deficit to 6-4, though that score would remain until the final out.
The PCL was led by the winningest manager in modern league history in current Fresno Grizzlies skipper, Tony DeFrancesco. Fresh off his victory Wednesday night, DeFrancesco boasted about his team's performance and the experience in Tacoma as a whole.
"They really came at us with a big home run, and we came back when Colin Moran hit a solo shot." DeFranceso said. "But the guys played great defense, they had a blast here, and Tacoma did a great job."
All tickets, group outings and suites packages for the 2017 season are available for purchase in person at the Cheney Stadium Box Office, online at www.tacomarainiers.com, or over the phone at (253) 752-7707. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Rainiers throughout the season can be found by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand) or liking the team on Facebook.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.