The Tri-Cities are 1-2 after a historic weekend at GESA Stadium in Pasco, Washington, after taking on the Hillsboro Hops, a High-A affiliate of the AZ Diamond Backs. The Hops roster features 4 top-30 prospects in the organization: OF Wilderd Pation(#16), RHP Dylan Ray(#25), RHP Tilber Diaz(#26), and RHP Conner Grammes(#30). The Hops also have the first woman ever to manage, win a game, and win a series at the High-A level of professional baseball, Ronnie Gajownik. The debut for Skip G was rough as the Dust Devils won 9-2 in their home opener Thursday night. The Dust Devils were powered by 2B Arol Vera, who was making his High-A Debut, and incumbent 1B Gabe Matthews both had 2RBI.
The next night, the Dust Devils sent RHP Connor Van Scoyoc, who was making his High-A debut, and got off to a rough start as he settled into go 4IP. However, the offense sputtered, as did the defense in this game, as errors, wild pitches, and sloppy play landed the Dust Devils a loss with a score of 7-3. This marked the first win for Skip G and made this a night to remember for her and all-around minor league baseball. The story was much the same on Saturday night as the Dust Devils' defense, pitching, and lack of offense landed the team another loss, this time going down 6-2. After the loss, fans were treated to a timeless classic fireworks night, which was enjoyable.
The Dust Devi's offense was led all weekend by Arol Vera, Gabe Matthews, Joe Stewart, and Stranton Podares. Overall, the rest of the lineup didn't do much, and Adrian Placencia and D'Shawn Knowles were underwhelming as we got the season kicked off. This is fine; I don't expect players at this level to get off to hot starts; for some of these guys, it was their first off-season of the pro ball; they were making their season debuts and coming in with their different sets of expectations upon them. The final note of the strengths is Arol Vera; his defense at the keystone(2B) is next level, and if you are lucky enough to see it in person, you will be glad you went to that game.
Skip G, or Ronnie Gajonski, his style of managing is excellent. I love how she knows her player's strengths on the offense, and she plays to their strength. She does the same for her bullpen and is fearless in pulling a guy in the 2nd/3rd, should the need arise. Ronnie didn't hold back on the bases; she was aggressive early and often with runners on bases, which led to her winning the series. She utilizes the team's speed and puts all her guys in a position to succeed at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. She is also intelligent and involved in the game, which goes back to her aggressive style; with each passed ball or wild pitch, she takes advantage of the jitters, stress, and nerves the pitcher is feeling, pitch to pitch.
What did I see, how did I feel, and what was the best part of minor league baseball in the Tri-Cities? That is an excellent series of questions; thank you for asking. I saw many amazing things; the team shop was remarkable, revamped, restocked, and drastically improved. The new food options include Teriyaki chicken bowls, mac n cheese, and ice cream. The mac n cheese was a massive hit, as I noticed nearly every person was getting in on it and enjoying it.
I felt cold and freezing Friday night and much better as I layered up for the next game. Pro-tip, if you're going to a Dust Devil's home game in April in the evening, please wear at least 2-4 layers of long sleeve clothes up top, a thick pair of pants or layers, and some warm socks. You can thank me later. I also felt a sense of belonging; baseball stadiums are my home, baseball is my true love, and walking up to the park, smelling hot dogs(it was family feast night), hearing the chatter of the park and the people, there is nothing like it. The next best part that adds to the feelings is Erik the Peanut Guy, who I am lucky enough to call a friend; he, Patrick, DJ BP, and the voice of the Dust Devil's Doug Taylor all bring the game to life for fans in person and on the radio. The Dust Devils do it right from top to bottom, making the game an enjoyable and memorable experience for all who attend nightly.
Please join me, the girls, Erik the Peanut Guy, all the other fantastic staff, and the Tri-Cities for a game this season.